Licensed foster parents are not technically paid, but rather are reimbursed, tax-free, on a per-day basis. It’s important to remember that nobody goes into foster care for a super great income—it will, most likely, cost you a little to get set up. Initially you will need to get yourself to all of the classes and appointments required for becoming licensed, and you will need to purchase specific items for your house, like fire extinguishers, beds/cribs, and other staples (your case worker will be able to give you the details, because they vary by state.) You may also have to pay to get your background check and your medical records verified.

Once you become licensed, you are expected to care for the child placed in your home as you would your own child—you must feed, clothe, and care for the child. You can’t expect any foster child to arrive with much more than the clothes on his or back, so you may need to spend quite a bit when he or she first arrives. You will also be using a lot of gas when you drive the child to meet with the caseworker, visit with parents, and go to many, many appointments. The child also may attend a school on the other side of town, so there’s some more gas money you will need to spend. Some states require foster parents to purchase a set amount of things per child, per month, such as new clothes or toys, and don’t allow foster children to use “hand-me-downs,” so make sure you know exactly what requirements you need to meet each month, and be sure to save your receipts. All in all, it’s a lot of work for what generally averages to be about $25 per day, per child, but you don’t do foster care for the cash—you do it to make a difference!


Jennifer Galan mothers four kids (one adopted, three biological) all while living the nomadic life of a military wife. She is a strong advocate for open adoptions, education reform, feminism, kindness, and naps. Mostly naps. Her favorite Doctor is number ten, and she is a proud Ravenclaw.