It’s important to understand that foster parenting isn’t a job that you get paid for. Being a foster parent requires an immense amount of dedication, preparation, and patience. Once foster parents have gone through the training, home study, and background checks, they are licensed, and children can be placed in their home. Once a child is place with them, foster parents begin receiving non-taxable reimbursement pay that, depending on the state, comes out to around $25 a day. This money is to go toward feeding, clothing, and generally taking care of the child. Some states have specific rules about what the money needs to be spent on; some states require a certain amount of new clothing per child, or want to see receipts for all personal care items you have purchased.

Now, you may be doing some math and thinking that it seems like a pretty good deal for taking care of a child, but keep in mind that caring for a foster child has a lot of “hidden costs” that can add up: You could be spending significant money on gas while driving her to many appointments, to visit with her parents, and to her school and doctor on a pretty regular basis. In addition, you will need to provide her with all of the physical needs of a child: a bed and bedding, toys, car seat—you have to assume that she will literally come to your home with only the clothes on her back.  If you foster infants, you will also need all of the things that make life easier with a baby: stroller, mobiles, high chair—the works. So, yes, you do get money for being a foster parent—but you don’t do it for the income; you do it for the love of a child.

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.