The Ups And Downs Of Fostering Kids

Benjamin J. Dueholm, who fostered a little girl and two boys, struggles with stingy public support for foster families:

Why people choose to become foster parents is something of a mystery. In the sparse literature on foster parents and their motivations, they report unfulfilled desires for biological children and the intention to adopt, a sense of obligation toward a family member entering the system, or the usefully vague "altruistic motivations." One factor that turns up consistently is knowing a foster parent or being related to a foster child. Despite lingering popular impressions to the contrary, money does not seem to motivate many foster parents to participate. In most states, including Illinois, foster care reimbursement rates lag well behind the average cost of raising a child.

This leaves child welfare advocates with a dilemma. Raising the board rates for foster children might attract and retain more foster parents, as well as ensure a better level of care. But it’s hard to argue for this when a substantial portion of the electorate considers foster parents to be in it for the money, and doubly hard to argue for it under conditions of severe austerity for safety net programs. (I have heard that some people do manage to turn fostering into a kind of cottage industry; I find it hard to imagine how.) 

Dueholm highlights another paragraph from his piece.