Foster care is expensive. But then so is looking after any child, whether they are yours genetically, by adoption, or just until their own parents sort themselves out. You could argue that foster kids take more work – they often come from very unhappy households, and many have experienced some level of abuse.
But there is a payment scheme in place, one which gives foster parents about $110 per week to help them take care of their foster children. This payment is designed to cover that extra work, or those extra costs, which arise because of a foster child’s family background. For example paying for counselling, which foster children are more likely to need.
The reasons why people choose to foster vary greatly. With the budget cuts I imagine fewer will be in it for the money, but there will always be some. Mostly though people choose to foster because it’s a thing that needs doing. Because they have a home, and there’s a child who needs a place to stay and food to eat and someone to tell them to wear a jumper and wash their face.
What new foster carers don’t always bank on is how rewarding the experience can be. It’s a powerful feeling to know that you have irrevocably changed someone’s life for the better. And that’s why foster parents put up with all the paperwork (they have to ask permission every single time their foster child needs paracetamol), and why they foot the bills and cook the dinners and clean up the mess, all for a child who isn’t theirs.
It takes a village to raise a child, and I think we need to start opening our doors and our hearts just a little bit more.
To read more on the costs associated with raising a foster child read the YOURLifeChoices article Foster Care is too expensive.
To find out how you can get involved in fostering visit the Australian Foster Care Association website
Have your say
What do you think? Is foster care too expensive? Should the government be providing foster parents with more help? Or is the financial burden just a part of being a parent, foster or otherwise?