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#1 of 29 Old 04-23-2011, 09:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I feel embarrassed to be asking this, but unfortunately, I can't really make this decision without this information.

 

A group of 3 children in my community are looking for a home, and I have approached their social worker about being their foster parent.  Apparently, because I had a relationship with them before they came into care, it could be a "kinship" placement, even though I'm not really "kin" in the biological sense of the word.

 

Anyway, I know that I couldn't afford to parent 3 more kids on my current salary, but the social worker tells me that they would qualify for a stipend of $30 a day each.  This is the minimum stipend in my state.

 

I hear people say all the time that there's no way you can pay for everything you need to pay out of the foster care stipend, but I'm wondering how true that would be for me.  Like I said, we do fine on my salary, but 3 kids would stretch us to the breaking point, so I'm trying to figure out how much I could anticipate spending above the stipend.

 

They are all in school during the week, and the school they attend has 8 weeks of summer school that would be free to them, plus free before and after care, breakfast and lunch.  I usually take leave for winter and spring break to be with my son anyway, So, I'd only have a 3 weeks of childcare costs between the end of summer and the beginning of the school year.

 

I know they'd have Medicaid, I had it for my son before his adoption was finalized, and it seemed like it covered pretty much everything they'd need, doctors, meds, therapy, dentist, glasses. . . .

 

So, what do you pay for with your stipend?  Food, toiletries, clothes, books, toys, after school activities like cub scouts or tae kwon do, a few weeks of summer camp, recreational things like movie tickets and trips to places, Christmas and birthday gifts . . . .  What am I missing?  I feel as though $900 a month per child would cover that, except for the weeks when they needed summer camp.

 

Also, we'd need to move to a bigger place in order for us to meet licensing for our new family size.  Would it be OK for me to take a little bit of that money for the rent?  Maybe $100 for each child?

 

Finally, do you pay taxes on the stipend?

 

 

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#2 of 29 Old 04-23-2011, 10:52 PM
 
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I think the "you can't pay for everything with the stipend" kind of diminishes if you are talking about multiple children. That is because your expenses (such as rent or gas)arent necessarily doubled for two children, or three children. Its absolutely fine to use some of the stipend for rent...that is the child's "room and board"...part of the stipend goes for their share of all household expenses (electric, heat, water, gas to appointments and activities etc). Frankly i dont have a problem with a FP "profiting" if there is any to be had...you ARE actually working. It can at times be hard work, and i'm not even necessarily talking about the care of the children (which may be easy or may be the hardest thing you'll ever do, depending on that child's needs)...but you will be having monthly (or more often) social worker visits in your home, if there is parental visitation in place, you may have to transport to that (i had to drive 80 miles round trip once a week for about 2.5 hours plus driving time...it really screwed up our Thursdays let me tell you), plus you have to take training on a yearly basis, you have to go through recertification visits, there may be tons of paperwork. None of that is necessarily difficult, but sometimes in can be a PIA and very intrusive in your life.

 

I'm a fairly low income mom and had to move to a larger place in order to have my foster son's sister placed with us (TPR had already occurred and i knew i'd be adopting her), my rent increased by almost $300 when i moved. So, yes, i was counting on the additional foster money to cover that. The thing is, you need to be sure that if something were to happen and those kids moved, that you wouldnt be in a horrible bind. I knew that if for some reason my daughter *wasnt* placed with me, we could still afford this place, but we might have to really tighten the belt. Basically...have a back up plan.

 

You may find that your foster kids qualify for free or reduced price stuff, such as summer camp (our worker called and said my daughter might get to go to camp this summer due to being on some list, but we will pass because i want to be free from that agency but thats another story!)...they will get free school lunch, medicaid, they may qualify for something like after school program or daycamp in the summer for free or reduced price depending on how your state works. There are often clothing allowences separate from the monthly stipend, depending on your state. You must live in a great state (or a very expensive one!) for $900/mo to be the basic stipend. Here in MI its just over $400/mo (kids over 13 get more, i think around $500/mo), the maximum you can get without super high level rare approval is i believe 800-900/mo, although my daughters former FM claimed she was getting $1600/mo for doing therapeutic foster care for teens, so maybe there is more to be had in specialized programs.  (There is basic level which is 14.-something a day i think, then Level 1 which adds an additional 5/day, Level 2 adds 10/day. Level 3 would be extreme needs and adds 15/day.)

 

As for what i pay...as i said, part of my rent and other expenses...but for my little son who is 3, its hard to say, he gets toys like my adopted son, clothes, meals out, the occasional visit to a local play place that has an entrance fee, that sort of thing. His major expense is probably diapers. My daughter is 9, and she gets all of those things too, plus an allowance and things like cd's and whatnot but usually only on special occasions. We arent into scheduling a million activities, but she does take piano every week (70/mo) and i imagine when the boys are a bit older they will start as well. The thing with having multiple kids is everything is multiplied...going out to eat starts becoming cost prohibitive. Or when it was just my first adopted son, if he wanted a toy in the store i'd just get it. What's five or even ten bucks? But with three (well four, but my oldest is beyond begging for toys ;) ) suddenly i'm looking at 30 or 40 dollars and thats just not something i can casually spend like that. Or going to the movies, with one its no big deal, but then if you are taking FOUR kids out...suddenly you are spending 50 bucks or more. But there are ways around that...like, when we eat out its usually at a buffet where the little ones are free or just a couple bucks, and i may use a coupon for a percentage off the bill...or you could go to the "cheap" movies. Basically the same tools any large family without a lot of money would use.

 

Beyond looking at the money aspect, i'd encourage you to look at the impact of adding three children to your presumably happy home, are these kids with issues? You know the kids, but do you know if there are behavioral concerns? Acting out? How do they fit in, age wise, with your son? How would he feel about a suddenly large family? Do you have support to help with things like childcare if needed (family or friend support, i mean)...is there a plan of reunification with the birthfamily and can you support that? Of course you probably have thought about all these issues but i'm just throwing that out there!

 

Sorry this was so long!

 

 

 


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#3 of 29 Old 04-23-2011, 11:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you so much!  That was really helpful.

 

I'd actually love to hear a little about your experience, especially about your oldest's reaction to suddenly becoming a big brother.  My son is 12.  He's adopted and has been with me since birth.  I didn't go through the foster care system to adopt him.  I think this will be a huge adjustment for him, but I also think he'll do great with it.

 

My other question is, if you have things that you've done for your own kids that you don't do for your foster kids, and how that works out.

 

For example, last year I sent my son to a computer camp that he LOVED.  He begged to go back so we saved all year, and I signed him up for 4 weeks.  Unfortunately, there's no way that I can afford to send the two oldest of these kids with him (littlest wouldn't be eligible as he's too young anyway).  It's just too expensive, so they'd have to go to "regular" camp, at the Y or the local gymnastics place or something.  I'd make sure it was safe and fun, but it probably wouldn't compare to computer camp.  Now, maybe they wouldn't notice, and in fact I don't know that they'd even want to go to computer camp, but I'd still be aware of the discrepency.  In future summers, if they still were with me, I could see saying everyone goes for 2 weeks, and someplace cheap for 2 weeks, but this year his 4 weeks are already paid for and promised. 

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#4 of 29 Old 04-24-2011, 12:40 AM
 
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I forgot to add that no you dont pay taxes on the foster stipend, and its basically not counted as income anywhere.

 

How old are the kids you're trying to get?


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#5 of 29 Old 04-24-2011, 01:38 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Mine is 12, and the others are 9, 7 and 3.

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#6 of 29 Old 04-24-2011, 07:51 AM
 
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The stipend in my state, and most others, isn't close to $30/day. I wish it was but it's not the case. I'm assuming your state has a high cost of living. In any case, you will be fine with $30 per day per kid. That's a ton of money. You would definitely have money left over even if you had to buy a whole wardrobe for each child. However, I do think that you'll need (want?) to spend more money for camp for the older children. If you are receiving $900/month for a child, there's no reason that you can't spend more. How much does the camp cost per week? You don't have to do the same for foster children but it should be equivalent.  You would be receiving $2,700 per month to care for the children.  Would you be required to get a foster license to get the stipend? In my state, kinship providers don't get a stipend unless they go and get a foster care license.

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#7 of 29 Old 04-24-2011, 08:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, I live in a very high cost of living area. 

 

The camp my son will go to would be $500 a week for each child.  It's a litle less for my son since he can walk home at the end of the regular day, but foster children would need after care, which drives the price up even higher.  So, I could probably put away a few hundred a month all year and send them next year if they were still with me, but coming up with $6,000 for a month of childcare would be tough.

 

They probably wouldn't go to this particular camp anyway, because it's more geared for preteens, and I don't think they'd enjoy it, but if I was in a position to be equitable I could find $500 camps that suit their interest.  For example, I know one child is very into rock and roll and there are music camps that are similarly expensive.  There are also fancy camps that have scholarships, but the deadline for those is past.  On the other hand, there's are lots of options that are either in less expensive "subjects" (theater camp, or soccer camp for example -- less overhead) or are more generic (a couple trips to the pool, a nice field trip, some arts and crafts) that are in the $200 a week range. 

 

As far as the stipend, I would have to be licensed as a foster parent, but they expedite the process if you're "kin".  I don't know if that means there are less hoops to jump through, or only that they make sure you're prioritized for getting through the hoops. 

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#8 of 29 Old 04-24-2011, 10:05 AM
 
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I would assume that social services would pay for summer camp for working foster parents. That's what they do here. I'd look into what they cover and go from there.

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#9 of 29 Old 04-24-2011, 12:07 PM
 
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I think there is a big enough age difference between your older son and the other kids that you can send him where you want, and do something different with the littler ones. If the oldest was his age or older i'd worry more.

 

Check into the YMCA...they give scholarships, i've heard, for people in need, and you'd probably qualify. They have tons of camp type options. Also, local parks and rec depts do as well, depending on your area.

 

 

 


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#10 of 29 Old 04-24-2011, 12:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think the way it works here is that they're eligible for full childcare subsidy and thus can go for free to any program that takes the vouchers.  In my experience the programs that meet that criteria are safe, and clean, but don't have a lot of extras and I hear a lot of kid complain that they're bored.  If they get 3 weeks a year that aren't school/summer school, I'd love to be able to have them do something more fun in a program with swimming and field trips and stuff.  I could use the subsidy and afford a program that's nice and has those things, so I'd want to provide it.  I just can't provide the ultimate top end. 

 

I actually thought more about this particular issue and realized that my son did plenty of cheaper programs when he was their age.  It's only as he's gotten older and developed specialized interests, and as my salary went up and daycare costs went down that I've sprung for the really pricey programs.  So maybe just thinking of it that they don't do it because they're younger, rather than because they're foster kids make sense, and remembering that when he was their age he went to programs like the ones I'm considering for them.  Of course, they won't see the bills so if I tell them that he goes to that camp because it's for older kids that would likely be enough of an explanation. 

 

Katherine:  I noticed you posted the same thought at the same time I did!

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#11 of 29 Old 04-24-2011, 01:48 PM
 
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Ok, I reread their ages and see that the older two are younger than I thought they were. I would check your YMCA and see what they have still open. They will qualify for the Open Doors Scholarship which here gives you great rates on some really terrific camps. I would try to avoid the child care center-type camps if at all possible. Some are great but most are unorganized and don't do a whole lot in between out of center activities.


 

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#12 of 29 Old 04-24-2011, 02:40 PM
 
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Geesh... I was fostering in the NYC 'burbs (one of the highest COL areas of the country) and our stipend wasn't even that high?!?  Where the heck are you???

 

Nobody looks at receipts to see what you're spending the money on.  They look at the quality of life provided for the child and that they are cared for as well as the rest of your family.  If they are, nobody really questions you.  Like queenjane, I don't take issue with an fp "profiting" with the leftover if they are "doing their job" well and the children are being treated like their own and well advocated for.  Seriously.  It IS work.  For us, it was enjoyable work, but work none-the-less.

 

And the issue of how much money may be left over truly varies by the situations and the amount of stipend.  For me, childcare voucher was not for the full amount of the childcare cost.  In other counties of my state, that wasn't the case.  For us, having one pre-teen child for 90 days cost us more than the stipend covered; but once they're there for a while--the initial outlay of clothing, games, etc. is over and there's likely to be leftover (we didn't have an older child--so there were no toys, books, etc. age appropriate for those kids until I went out to buy them).  And the clothing sizes were odd--leaving me to pay $60 for ONE very modest size 0 female bathing suit (it's like the holy grail... so help me--but you pay it because you want to honor a young girls desire for modesty in this day and age!!!).  We also didn't let the kids in our home eat the school breakfasts.  We're a bit more stringent on food than most and wanted to be sure they had protein in the morning vs. carbs and sugars.  So much of the difference in what's left over is how you live (and therefore, how your foster kids will live).

 

Larger homes, larger vehicles, utility bills, food bills--these all serve the children in your home and that is what you are getting the money to do.

 

I would be surprised if they didn't make you get licensed to get the monthly stipend, though.  That's the case in most states.

 

Oh--and find out if they get extra vouchers/money for beginning of school and/or change of season clothing.  These are areas that can rack up some big bills that you'll want to set aside for monthly.  Same with Christmas and birthdays.  We got slammed with winter coats one year.


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#13 of 29 Old 04-24-2011, 07:17 PM
 
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Another thing i was thinking about (while washing Easter dinner dishes of all things) was that you may find there is alot that you allow your older son to do that the younger kids dont, regardless of their age. Even if they were his age or older. You didnt go into detail about how you know these kids, but its very common to have to kind of keep closer reign on new kids. At 8 my oldest son could ride his bike all over town and i trusted him to make good choices. My daughter, when she came at 8, i had a hard time trusting her to go down the street. At our house, she is generally not allowed off the block, sometimes i let her walk around the block with a friend...she hasnt totally earned my trust. (We live in a safe area so i'm not worried about that, i'm worried about her manipulating neighbors or things like that.) At 8 or 9, i didnt not restrict my son's computer time at all. My daughter at 9, different story, different needs.

 

I guess what i'm saying is dont worry too much about making sure everything is "fair" and "equal"...as long as each child is getting THEIR specific needs met. My daughter likes to complain that its "not fair" that she has responsibilities the littles dont have, or that she doesnt get the same perks my 14 yr old gets. I remind her that the littles also can't play in the front yard unless i'm there and go to bed much earlier than she does, so does she really want it to be "fair" and have those restrictions too? And that my oldest son never lies to me and has my trust, and maybe she can earn that trust eventually too. Its a balancing act but i think those are very natural ages to add to your family, you won't deal with alot of those issues because your oldest will get "more" (in terms of what he's allowed to do and go) by virtue of him being older anyway.

 


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#14 of 29 Old 04-24-2011, 09:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks!

 

I'd definitely be licensed, I know I'd need to complete the same 30 hour class as other foster parents, for example, and get background checked and lead paint tested etc . . . .I think the biggest difference would be that for "kin" they do it concurrently, so the time line is faster.  So, rather than completing the foster course, and then doing a homestudy, and then waiting for clearances, they'd be running my clearances while I attend class etc . . . I think they also expedite the process in other ways too.  I'm still waiting for details on all that.

 

I'm not looking to earn or pocket money off this.  I get that that's not unethical, but it wouldn't be my goal.  But, if at the end of the day I'm putting away far less for a rainy day than I currently do, or having to seriously skimp on things that are important to me and that I've been able to afford in the past, or not paying my bills on time, I might think twice.  I would also want to be able to provide everything for the little kids that I provided for my son at that age, such as a couple of moderate cost after school activities, and a birthday party, and a fun summer camp, and the occaisional day out or trip to the movies.  It seems like I could make that work easily at that level of payments. Sure, there would be months like December, or when they go to summer camp that I'd come out behind, but there would be other months when I'd come out ahead and it would all even out, at least that's what I hope.

 

You guys have given me a lot to think about.  If you have more wisdom to share, both in terms of what I ask the social worker before I make a final decision, and what I should be considering, please let me know.

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I think you're putting too much focus on keeping the cost the same. Of course the fk won't go to computer camp, both because of their age and probably because it doesn't interest them. Just because you spent $500/wk on bs doesn't meant you have to spend the same on fk to make things equal. Just find something they would be interested in, period. Equal fun, not equal cost. (Don't rule out something they may like just because it costs less than computer camp).

 

Also keep in mind that because their life is pretty hectic and their younger age, they may not WANT to go away to camp. Instead they could go to day camp or sign them up for summer activities; swimming, soccer, softball etc. 

 

And I agree, in all my years of reading about fostering I've never heard of $30/day (unless it's therapeutic). 


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Quote:
Originally Posted by Momily View Post

Anyway, I know that I couldn't afford to parent 3 more kids on my current salary, but the social worker tells me that they would qualify for a stipend of $30 a day each.  This is the minimum stipend in my state.


Is there any chance that the $30 could be the amount for all of them combined per day? Many here are thinking the emount you would receive sounds very high, sounds like 3 times the amount some would receive. If I were you, I would double check that you understood correctly. (Sorry, in case you are sure. I don't mean to be insulting. It just sounds very different from what others are receiving and it would, I assume, be terrible if you went into thing without correcrt information.) In any case, if it is 3 times 30 per day, I am very happy for you.

 


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#17 of 29 Old 04-25-2011, 08:04 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I am 100% sure about the $30.  The email I got from the social worker said "$30 a day which comes out to $900 a month per child.  So if you took all 3 you'd have a total of $2700 each month".  Not much room for misinterpretation.  

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#18 of 29 Old 04-25-2011, 10:06 AM
 
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LOL, I guess not, I would want to be really clear with the social worker about what the kids needs really are. Is that the regular board rate or is at least one child receiving a higher rate because of more extreme special needs? I'd also want to know if the children have ever been in foster care before. Paying for things with the board money wouldn't even be a concern for me because no matter where you live, you can easily raise three extra children for less than $2700 a month.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Polliwog View Post

LOL, I guess not, I would want to be really clear with the social worker about what the kids needs really are. Is that the regular board rate or is at least one child receiving a higher rate because of more extreme special needs? I'd also want to know if the children have ever been in foster care before. Paying for things with the board money wouldn't even be a concern for me because no matter where you live, you can easily raise three extra children for less than $2700 a month.



Totally agreeing with all of this.  I'm trying to think of what state had higher board rates than NJ.  I know there were one or two, but not many; and at the moment, base rate in NJ is $719/mo for an infant and I think $760-ish for the age range you're talking about plus another $60/mo for clothing.  Those rates go up if the kids are going to require a lot of therapy visits or doctor/specialist visits that would eat up more than normal amounts of time, gas, mileage and parking.  So that rate would make me wonder what's going on with them.

 

So that's the very first thing I'd want to ask the worker:  What medications are they on?  What specialists do these children have to see?  What is their visitation schedule?  What evaluations need to happen?  What accommodations do I need to be sure the school is making for any of them?  If you just ask "What special needs do these children have", you may or may not get a complete answer.  You could start with that, but follow up with the specifics so that you really know what's involved.

 

Also, find out who is going to be transporting them to/from their visitation.  I know of plenty of people that were told they would be required to do the transporting and rearranged work schedules around it, etc. only to find that legally, CPS was responsible for it and just put it on the foster parents whenever they could.  Also, who will be supervising the visits. I would not allow myself to be in the position of supervising visits.  For countless reasons.  So ask that, and if they say that you are--push back and push back HARD.  That is a very difficult and potentially dangerous (in terms of liability more than physical danger, but I guess it could be physical danger, too) position to be in.


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#20 of 29 Old 04-25-2011, 12:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't want to go into too much detail about the kids' needs or about my relationship with them, but I'm actually in a position to know a great deal about the kids' background and their special needs.  I have a million questions about fostering, and about the impact of fostering on my son, but not so many about the kids!

 

Polliwog, I'd also love to ask you a question that has more info, but wonder if I could do it by PM?  I think you have a specific experience that I would like insight into.  Would that be OK?

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#21 of 29 Old 04-25-2011, 01:08 PM
 
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Is that for therapeutic foster care?  I've never heard of rates being that high - even in HCOL areas. 

 

Anyhow, I'm glad you are getting so much helpful advice here.  I have none to offer, as I am mostly a lurker on this forum since we hope to foster/adopt in the future.  I am also looking into being a CASA volunteer as a way of helping children until we are ready to open our home.

 

Best of luck to you. 


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#22 of 29 Old 04-25-2011, 03:02 PM
 
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Of course. I think I have an idea of what you're referring to (based on what I remember you've posted before.) But even if I'm completely wrong, I'll help in any way that I can.
 

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Originally Posted by Momily View Post

I don't want to go into too much detail about the kids' needs or about my relationship with them, but I'm actually in a position to know a great deal about the kids' background and their special needs.  I have a million questions about fostering, and about the impact of fostering on my son, but not so many about the kids!

 

Polliwog, I'd also love to ask you a question that has more info, but wonder if I could do it by PM?  I think you have a specific experience that I would like insight into.  Would that be OK?



 

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#23 of 29 Old 04-26-2011, 10:25 AM
 
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Sometimes just being a sibling group adds a special needs status (at least in our area, from what I've read), so that could have something to do with the stipend.

 

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#24 of 29 Old 04-27-2011, 04:19 AM
 
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Interesting. I've heard that about qualifying for post-adoption subsidy not for fostering itself. There are so many variations from place to place, though.

 

 

 

Momily, I got your PM and will reply today.
 

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Sometimes just being a sibling group adds a special needs status (at least in our area, from what I've read), so that could have something to do with the stipend.

 

Tjej



 

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#25 of 29 Old 04-27-2011, 05:14 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Here being in a sibling group can make children eligible for adoption subsidy who wouldn't be otherwise.  I think they may also sometimes keep siblings together when they move them to therapeutic homes which have a higher pay rate, so you might have a sibling getting therapeutic rate who might not be eligible for it on their own.

 

None of those things apply in this case.

 

I talked to the social worker at length, and based on a few things she said think this isn't a situation that will work for us.  It's unfortunate since they are great kids, but there are too many logistical issues.  However, now that I have researched it, I do think foster care might be for us.  I have an appointment to go to an orientation next month! 

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#26 of 29 Old 07-24-2011, 02:26 PM
 
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I know I'm new to this old post but I wanted to comment (I just discovered this board so I'm reading through old post). Just wanted to add this. Where I live it is $30 a day per kid for regular foster care. This is a recent increase from what I understand as it hadn't been increased in many many years so there was a big jump when it was increased. I think up until a few years ago it was $400 a month and now it is $800ish a month. Therapeutic foster care I know in another county is like $2000 a month. There are some high income areas near by, not sure if that affected the increase. 

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#27 of 29 Old 07-24-2011, 03:04 PM
 
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Momily, did you go to the orientation ? are you still planning on fostering?

 

 


Katherine, single homeschooling mom to Boy Genius (17) geek.gif  Thing One (6) and Thing Two (6) fencing.gif and one outgoing Girl (12) bikenew.gif and hoping for more through foster care and adoption homebirth.jpgadoptionheart-1.gif 
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#28 of 29 Old 04-03-2012, 08:09 PM
 
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i have two fosterkids  in my home.since june 16 2011 i dont get no support  from the stat at all..i had to divorce my husband to keep the kids  and dont get help   i take care of the girls of my income.i call alots of people for help always turn  down..the case work  the kids  have  aint   shit   the mother  dont  not   come   to  none  of  her   visit....judge order mom.to  come to my home to see her kids   one  visit  that  all.......  mom  work  at  piccdilly restuart..i work  i  take  good care  of  the  girls   i  try to  help there mother  she lies to much..i   got the kids  in  church  these kids just   want  love...and i give  plenty of that...my   family show love to the girls.. they never miss a day in school   ....all doctor appointment...i go to the hearing  at court.. the mother was order to pay $50.00 a week i never saw nothing.the kids atty is no help  at all. i need help asap thank  you

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#29 of 29 Old 04-03-2012, 09:15 PM
 
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Are these kids placed with you through a foster care agency? Are you a licensed foster parent or a relative? If you are a licensed FP i dont understand how you are not getting paid. If you are a relative, well that depends on the policies of your state, in my state awhile back relatives did not get a stipend unless they became a licensed foster parent (if i recall correctly.)


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