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Do Foster Parents Get Paid for Adopting a Foster Child?

Parenthood is a rewarding and challenging endeavor. But, when you need adoption to become a parent, it can also be incredibly expensive. No matter which type of adoption you choose to pursue, unexpected costs can add up quickly. Facing the rising costs of adoption, some families interested in foster care start to wonder, “Do foster parents get paid if they adopt?” Families that are already foster parents might be wondering, “Will foster parents lose their financial assistance if they want to adopt their foster child?” The answers to these questions are yes and no. While hopeful parents can receive payment for fostering and adopting a child, it’s not as straightforward as you might think. Here, learn more about foster-to-adopt payments and other financial benefits available to foster and adoptive parents.

Do You Get Paid for Foster-to-Adopt?

During the foster care process, foster parents will receive adoption subsidies and financial assistance to put toward their child’s needs. While these funds can be helpful, they may not be enough to fully support a child or provide the kind of life you’re hoping to give them. You’ll also need to show you’re financially ready to be a foster parent without these subsidies, prior to placement. You don’t have to be rich to adopt your foster child, but you do need to make sure that you’re financially prepared for all the challenges that come with raising a child, however long they’re in your care. Unfortunately, some foster families do use the foster care adoption subsidy for unintended purposes, even when they don’t need to. To help prevent this, some agencies may require foster parents to track their spending. That way, they can make sure the money is going to the right place. Keep in mind that foster parents will receive subsidies while caring for their foster children.

So, How Does a Foster Care Adoption Subsidy Work?

The amount of money a foster parent receives and when they receive it varies by state. A foster parent will receive a predetermined amount each month. This will depend on the needs of their child. Each state has a set amount of subsidies for foster parents, so how much you will receive can vary greatly. You can learn more about what a foster adoption stipend will look like in each state and the payment schedule here.

What Qualifies a Foster Child for Adoption Assistance?

Many of the children in foster care qualify as “special needs.” If you hear this phrase, you might be worried about the costs of medical expenses. However, that’s not what “special needs” always means. It simply means that a child qualifies for adoption assistance based on certain factors. A child is considered “special needs” if they:
  • Are part of a sibling group and need to be placed together
  • Are an older child
  • Have a physical, mental or emotional disability
  • Have a medical condition
Before you adopt, your caseworker will let you know if the child qualifies as special needs and what kind of assistance you can expect to receive. If you have any questions about a potential foster placement, don’t be afraid to reach out to them.

Do Foster Parents Get Paid if They Adopt?

Not exactly. While adoptive parents can receive an adoption subsidy or reimbursement when adopting from foster care, it doesn’t mean that they’re getting a paycheck out of it. Any assistance they receive from the government or the state is non-taxable income intended to supplement the cost of a child’s needs after adoption. So, adoptive parents can’t — or at least shouldn’t — put that money toward anything else. Foster parents can receive financial assistance in three ways: through monthly payments, medical coverage for their foster child, or reimbursement for certain adoption-related expenses. Adoptive parents are also eligible for the adoption tax credit if they incurred certain adoption-related expenses during the adoption. Foster parents are often also eligible for reimbursement after their adoption is finalized. Most of the time, a foster-to-adopt allowance doesn’t stretch far enough to cover all of child’s basic needs after adoption. After all, parenting is a financial commitment; it’s not something that’s “free” or that you “get paid for.” Therefore, foster parents need to prove they’re financially stable before they can adopt (or foster) a child. They will be asked about this in their home study. We know that the idea of receiving payment for adoption is tempting, but please make sure you’re pursuing this path for the right reasons. The best foster parents are the ones who have a deep desire to help a child in need, watch them thrive and give them the kind of love that only a parent can. If you’re only interested in adopting (or fostering) because you’re hoping to get paid, then you should probably rethink your decision.

What Should I Use My Subsidy On?

Like we mentioned earlier, any payment you receive (both while fostering and after adoption) should go toward your foster or adopted child’s needs. A few ideas are:
  • New clothing for your foster or adopted child
  • Food
  • Transportation
  • School supplies
  • Anything your child is in need of
If you have any questions about other items you can spend your fostering and adoption allowances on, don’t be afraid to ask your social worker for more information. Some foster parents also wonder, “Do foster payments stop after adoption?” Typically, a foster child will age out of state care at 18, which is usually when foster care adoption assistance ends. However, it can continue until a foster child turns 21, depending on the circumstances. Many times, foster parents decide that they’re ready to take the leap into permanent adoption. But, if finances are a concern, they may ask: Do foster parents get paid after adoption, too?

What are Some Other Financial Benefits Offered When Foster Parents Adopt?

There are a number of benefits available for parents after adopting from foster care. Because the children in foster care are in such desperate need of safe homes and families, the government makes the process as financially easy as possible for prospective adoptive families. Here are just a few benefits, beyond basic foster care adoption assistance:
  • It’s basically free: By far, the biggest benefit is how cheap foster care adoption is. While it’s great that foster-to-adopt payments help cover certain expenses, foster care is already more affordable than other types of adoption.
  • Health Insurance: Every parent is worried about health insurance for their family. If you foster or adopt a child, they should be covered by state-funded insurance, So even if your own insurance is not as reliable, rest assured that your child has secure health insurance options.
  • Free or cheap college: Some foster parents wonder, “Do kids adopted from foster care receive financial aid for college?” In some states, foster children can attend college for free. If you have a child who is getting close to heading off to college, don’t forget to talk with your caseworker about the benefits available for foster children and children adopted through foster care. Your caseworker will work with you to provide the assistance and support you need, whether you’re fostering or adopting a foster child.
If you have any additional questions about which benefits do and do not continue after adopting your foster child, please reach out to your caseworker.

Affording Your Foster Care Adoption

The truth is that adopting from foster care is not a quick or easy way to make money. While there are plenty of benefits for foster parents who venture down this path, it’s still just as challenging as any other type of adoption. There just happens to be more financial support for parents who choose this family-building option. Make sure you’re prepared for any and all potential costs before adding a foster care adoption subsidy into your family’s budget. Foster care subsidies are dependent on state funding, which means that how much you will receive is always subject to change. There’s always a risk that the amount could decrease if laws or state budgets change, so you should never depend solely on foster care subsidies to care for your child’s needs. If you have any other questions about foster care subsidies after adoption, please reach out to your caseworker for more information.