How Much Can You Foster If You Have Debt?

When parents struggle with addiction or other problems, they can put their kids in foster care. In many cases, a judge tells them they need to follow specific steps to regain custody of their children and get them back home. In some states, those steps include a court-ordered debt for foster care that can delay reunion.

But an NPR investigation found the practice can keep impoverished parents in debt and burden already-troubled families for years. State and county child welfare agencies in every state send bills to these parents, a little-known policy that can leave them with massive debts. The federal government recently issued new guidance to states that will make it easier to stop this practice, but NPR found some parents still are getting bills after the feds told them to stop.

A few of these bills can be very significant, but they shouldn’t prevent you from becoming a foster parent. You need to prove you have the financial stability and capacity to take on a new role that could change your life forever.

You need to be able to pay for basic needs such as food, clothing and housing for the foster child you are caring for. Your state may ask for your previous and current pay stubs and tax returns to verify that you can afford to provide for a foster child.

In some states, you can apply for enhanced maintenance payments to help cover expenses such as extra care and transportation costs. This can help cover the cost of extracurricular activities and field trips that your foster child might need.

Some foster youth will also need help with college tuition, and there are many state programs that can help them get the education they need. Check with your state to see if you qualify for a tuition waiver or grant.

If you’re going to be fostering for long periods of time, it’s important to have your home insured and prepared for any potential claims. Some insurance companies offer additional liability coverage for foster families to help protect themselves from lawsuits.

Then, you can prepare for your foster child’s aging out of the system and their transition to independence. There are some resources available to help make the transition go smoothly, such as the HUD Foster Youth to Independence initiative and the National Council for Adoption.

Your state may also have a program to help you prepare for the foster child’s transition to independent living. You can find more information on these resources in your state’s foster care agency or state foster care website.

When you are a foster parent, you have to make sure that your home is safe and secure for the child. It’s not uncommon for children to slip and fall in your home or damage it in other ways, so it’s important to have a home insurance policy that covers accidents in your home.

You should be able to show that you have enough money for the costs of fostering, including any fees and a fostering allowance that will depend on the age of the child. You will also need to be able to demonstrate that you have the financial ability to support your foster child and their siblings when they are in your care.