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Foster Care – Is it Expensive?

According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, one of the misconceptions about adoption is that it’s expensive. In reality, foster care adoption is very affordable (Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, n.d.). In many instances, Federal and State assistance programs are available during and after the adoption process.

Foster parents also receive monthly compensation per child and reimbursement for expenses, including room, board, clothing and incidentals. According to the Specialized Alternatives for Families and Youth (SAFY), foster children are insured for medical and dental services.

Many prospective parents do not know that adopting children from foster care is virtually free, while private or international adoptions can cost anywhere from $4,000 to $30,000 or more. Families can typically recoup most or all of these expenses after finalization through the federal adoption tax credit (Adoptive Families: The Resource & Community for Adoption Parenting).

In addition, the Adoption Assistance Program (AAP) is a federally funded program that provides financial assistance for eligible adoptive children who have special needs. Special needs includes children over 8 years old, children of minority or ethnic groups, children with cognitive, emotional or physical disabilities and children with histories that put them at risk for special needs. Children remain eligible for AAP through their 18th birthday. They also are eligible to receive Medi-Cal benefits through the age of 18. 

A growing number of companies and government agencies offer adoption assistance as part of their employee benefit packages, including time off for maternity/paternity leave, financial incentives and other benefits. In addition, Congress has made federal tax credits available for foster care adoptions to help offset required fees, court costs, legal and travel expenses. In June 2001, the President signed a revised adoption tax credit, which took effect in January 2003, to increase the amount of the credit to $10,000 for all adoptive families (Families for Children). Benefits such as these are enabling more families to adopt foster children into their homes. More information is available in the IRS Publication 968 “Tax Benefits for Adoption”, which can be obtained by calling 1-800-829-3676 or visiting www.irs.ustreas.gov.

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