Here’s a thought-provoking blog post from The Chronicle of Social Change that argues that the current structure for foster care parent reimbusement was based on the outdated model of a 2 parent household where one parent stays home while the other is the breadwinner.
Our current foster care system pays everyone but the ones who work 24/7 and bear the heaviest burdens of care and responsibility. Not only that, we treat foster parents poorly. They are given little say in conferences and in court where decisions are made. And when the birth parents complain or things otherwise go wrong, the foster parents often face allegations. We have relied on their love of children to recruit and retain them.
We don’t expect volunteers to handle other serious problems. We pay people to care for those who are seriously ill, to provide residential care for our elderly, or daytime child care for working parents. We value these tasks and expect to pay for them. Yet we call on volunteers and lean on their generosity to take care of our most vulnerable children.
If we wish our wards to have family homes, the answer to our foster home shortage seems both obvious and inevitable: stop depending on volunteers.
In order to compete with the lure of a job in the outside world, provide the stay-at-home foster parent with reasonable compensation, the equivalent of a second income.
What are your thoughts? Should we pay foster parents a living wage to stay home and care for our foster children?