Why Aren’t You a Foster Parent ~ Part III.

Today we have Laurieann Thorpe sharing
“Why Aren’t You a Foster Parent?” Series
Part 3.
Laurieann is on our UFA Blog Committee.
We share her bio below and you can also find out more about her by visiting her blog at openbookopenheart.com

 A few weeks ago, I told you about how people love to tell me the reasons they could never be a foster parent.  Today, we’re going to talk about reason #3.
You can read my answer to reasons
#1 and #2 here and here .
1 – “I could never give up a child I love – especially when it means giving them back to their no-good, dirty, rotten, stinking, biological parents.”
2 – “Children in foster care pose a threat to the children already in my home.”
3 – “People just do foster care for the money.”
I can’t… I’m not…  I just… Oh my… Gah!
#3 makes me stutter.  I cannot believe people think and say this out loud.  But they do.  I know they do.  I’m certain I thought and said as much BEFORE I became a foster parent.  And now, I’m ashamed of myself for it.  Let me be perfectly, crystally, clear: No one fosters for the money.  No one.
If you are guilty of thinking that, first of all, shame on you, and second, I know you are pulling up a stereotype in your brain of a family who fostered 10 kids at the same time and you KNOW they were in it for the money.  That stereotype is complete garbage for three reasons.
1- No one is that stupid.  You can get a minimum wage job and work said job for 3 hours a day and make more than you “make” for fostering a child.  You do not have to do a cost benefit analysis to determine what would be more lucrative.  ANY job is more lucrative than fostering.
2- You can’t foster 10 kids at once.  States limit the number of foster children who can be in a home at the same time.  In Utah, where I foster, the limit is three placements at one time.  Unless a family is fostering a sibling group of ten, no one fits that stereotype.
3- The “basic” foster care rate falls well below the cost of caring for a child. For example, Utah’s foster care rate provides only 55-60% of the cost of caring for a child. (You can find details about each state’s rates compared to the cost of caring for a child in a comprehensive report published by Child Trends  http://childtrends.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Foster-Care-Payment-Rate-Report.pdf)
Have you ever had a job you loved so much, you paid your employer to let you do it?  That is what foster parents do. 
When we first started fostering, we had a 4-year-old little guy (who, by the way, called us SuperMom and SuperDad – oh, we adored him!).  At the time, I had a part-time job.  I worked 25 hours per week.  My sister agreed to provide daycare while I was working for an incredibly reduced childcare rate of 2 bucks an hour (a screaming deal!).  Every month, we paid her far more than we received in foster care reimbursements.
I reject the whole premise that providing foster care is a job.  But let’s just run with that idea for a second.   Would you ever, in a million years, say to a daycare provider, “Oh, you’re just in this for the money!”  How about to the 14-year-old you hired to watch your kids for a couple of hours?  How about your child’s teacher?  You get how ludicrous that is right?
Foster Parents receive a reimbursement for a (small) portion of the cost associated with caring for a child.  No one is counting stacks of cash, bags of gold in their back rooms, cackling and rubbing their hands together, scheming about how to get MORE kids and MORE bags of gold. 
Let’s put the incredulity and outrage where it belongs.  Why are states getting away with paying such low reimbursement rates?  Dog kennels charge more for their services than foster parents do for taking a child! (One example: http://www.ricmarkennels.com/pricing_policies.html)  Instead of judging a foster parent, write a letter to your legislature – ask for parity between reimbursement rates and the cost of caring for a child in your state.  And then sleep better because you’re out of the judging game AND you made a difference for kids who couldn’t do that for themselves.

Laurieann Thorpe loves other people’s children.  She has worked professionally in child welfare, overseeing education programs for children in foster care.  She and her husband David adopted their oldest son through a private agency when he was two days old.  Later, they became foster parents.  Some children have bounced into and out of their home.  Others have come to stay.  They will adopt a two-year-old little boy this year and anticipate his little sister will join their family any day. 
Laurieann is a passionate adoption and foster care advocate.  She has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and has a unique perspective, having worked in child welfare for many years.


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