Navigating the road to becoming a licensed foster care parent is long and can be a little tricky. One of the great things about fostering is that, compared to a private adoption, there is very little out-of-pocket expense for becoming licensed.

The path to getting certified to be a foster parent may cost a little, but most foster parents actually receive money once they are licensed and have a child placed for care in the home. Depending on your area, you may find that you have to spend out of pocket for licensing costs like fingerprinting fees and background check fees. In addition, you may need to spend money to ready your home for a child to live there — a crib or twin bed, dresser, high chair, fire extinguisher, blankets, etc.

Once you have prepared your home and are certified to be a foster care parent, you will most likely find that after you are matched with a child, you may receive a stipend from your agency designed to cover some living expenses and incidentals, like food, toys, diapers, formula, and new clothes for the child (remember to save your receipts!). If you work and need to utilize daycare services, many areas cover that monthly (or at least give you a subsidy). You shouldn’t have any out-of-pocket expenses for the child’s insurance needs — most foster children are covered by the state for health insurance and doctor visits, as well as therapy and subsidized prescription medicines.

Talk to your local agency about specifics in your area for more detailed information and don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. Your social worker should be able to give you a projected list of expenses and reimbursements, as well as any stipends you may receive. In addition,  talk to a tax specialist to make sure you are getting all of the credits due to you, come tax season.

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Written by Jennifer Galan.