Monday, March 25, 2013

Foster Care Q&A: Decisions, Expenses, and the Biological Family

This is the second installment of the Foster Care Q&A Series.  If you missed the first post, Foster Care: The Basics, please take a moment and read it first.

Disclaimer: Each state has their own Foster Care rules and regulations.  I will try and answer questions as basic and broad as possible, but will be speaking from our experience as foster parents in Alabama.  I encourage you to research your state Department of Human Resources or independent Foster Care Agencies to learn more. 

1.  Can you decide what ages and gender of the children you will foster? 
     Yes.  As a foster parent, you have the right to set parameters on your age range, gender preference, physical and emotional disabilities.  When a social worker calls you with a potential placement, they will be giving you as much information as they know. There is a quick turnaround time between removal of the child from their home and placement into a foster home.  It's important to take note that they often do not have a full medical history of the child.  As a foster parent, you must be flexible and willing to accept that children may come into your home with more medical or emotional issues than first determined by the social worker.

2. Do foster parents get reimbursed for expenses related to the child? 
     Foster Parents receive a monthly subsidy for each child in their home.  This is to cover their "room and board."  In addition, foster children are on Medicaid and any additional medical expenses are paid by the state department of social services.  In Alabama, and most likely other states, foster children under the age of five are eligible for WIC (Women, Infants, Children Food/Nutrition Program).  This program provides a monthly supplement of formula for infants or basic food necessities for toddlers.  This is a great help to foster parents with food costs.

3.  How much interaction will the child have with their biological family while in foster care? 
     The court system will decide how much interaction the biological family will have with one another. The purpose of foster care is first and foremost always reunification.  The court system will give the family as many chances as possible that are safe for the child and will provide an opportunity for the biological family and child to maintain their bond.  It could be a weekly supervised visit at the Department of Human Resources, an unsupervised visit at on a Saturday afternoon, or overnight visits to the birth family, to name a few examples.

4.  Does the foster parent have much face to face interaction with the biological family? 
     It often depends on the specific case of the child.  There will be times where the biological family is deemed too dangerous and a threat to the safety of the child and therefore, interaction is not encouraged.  In other cases, if the foster parent feels comfortable and reunification is the end goal for the child, interaction may be a good idea.  For example, the parents of the child may accompany the foster parent to the child's doctor appointments or come to the child's soccer games.

Foster Care Q&A: Part 3 Coming Soon! 

If you are a foster parent in another state and want to add or clarify anything, please email me at leslieharris77 (at) gmail (dot) com.  Would love to have your input. 

Looking for some other blogs of Foster Parents around the country? Head over here for a huge list of foster care blogs. 

Have more questions after reading this?  Leave them in the comments below or send me an email! 


  1. We are in a different state. What you have listed is pretty typical in our experience.
    We have A LOT of contact with our child's birth mom and often extended family. But recently the extended family aspect has been cut way back due to an experience we had at an appointment for the baby. Our agency allows us to make the 'call' on contact for the most part. Most every foster parent I know (though our agency) has contact with the birth family.

    1. Thanks Jennifer! Are you in Ohio? Are you working with a state or private foster agency?

    2. Yes, Ohio. We are with a county agency. Our family dynamic didn't work with the private agencies here. We tried that first but God clearly has a plan :)

  2. Thanks for linking to the foster parent blog list on! The list continues to grow with five new blogs added, today.

    Enjoyed reading your answers to the questions, with the personal touch of adding in examples of what has been experienced in your situations. Thanks!