Foster parents often lament the fact that the payment for taking care of troubled children is so remarkably low. Depending on what state you live in, you may or may not feel as though your receive adequate compensation for your foster parenting efforts. Money definitely is an important part of the foster parenting equation because it simply wouldn’t be possible for most foster parents to afford the food, clothing, and shelter requirements to care for their foster children properly without financial compensation.
The fact is, it would be very difficult for many foster parents to perform their duties without financial compensation. On the flip side however, most foster parents could care less about how much they get paid to take care of their foster children. They need enough to pay for their foster child’s basic costs, but money is no motivator for most people who get involved with foster care. This makes foster parents unique in the foster parenting team. Everyone else on the team does their job for the money and probably wouldn’t do their job if it didn’t pay them well enough to survive. Not to say there isn’t altruism involved in working with families as a social worker or as a therapist, but foster parents are definitely doing the work for a different, less materialistic type of payment than everyone else on the foster parenting team.
Foster parenting is a remarkably challenging job. Interestingly most foster parents derive enjoyment from their job in a way that most social workers and attorneys do not. Working with children is really rewarding if you enjoy it and know something about kids. Foster parents need payment in order to provide the basic necessities for their foster child, but their payment comes in the form of love and experiences that they get to have with their foster children. It is odd to think that people would do a job as challenging as foster parenting with very little pay, but watching children grow is a reward in and of itself. Foster parents are people who have figured out how to derive pleasure from growing children, not just their flesh and blood. These are people who see the importance of all children growing into mature and capable adults who are able to love themselves and others. Though many parents of biological children may have other motives for the children they raise (perhaps they want their kids to make them proud or represent the family well), foster parents are never disillusioned into thinking their foster children are supposed to grow up and be just like them. Foster parents must pay constant heed to the fact that foster children are who they are. Getting to learn about the children in their care is part of what makes the adventure more valuable than money.
Money is only one side of the foster parenting paradigm. It’s importance should not be diminished. Being paid adequately gives foster parents more resources work with to help their foster children. But foster parents receive a different sort of payment that social workers, lawyers, and therapists don’t get to have. Foster parents get to have a relationship with their foster children. Many of these relationships last for a lifetime. And it’s hard to put a dollar amount on those relationships because they are priceless.