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How to Become a Foster Parent: The Costs and Benefits

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You're probably wondering: What will caring for a foster child cost? Kids are expensive, right? Well, yes. And raising a kid, even temporarily, will cost some money out of pocket. However, the state does help out quite a bit.

In addition to the state benefits, there's also the possibility of tax deductions for expenses related to dependents, medical expenses, and child care. Really though, the main benefit is simply helping out a child that is coming from a truly screwed-up home and perhaps setting them up for a successful future.

Here's what you need to know about foster-parenting expenses:

Monthly Stipend

For each foster child you care for, you will receive a check from the state to cover the child's clothing, food, and other needs. Will it be enough? That depends on how thrifty you can be. Expect to spend a little bit out of pocket on top of the monthly check. The majority of the child's expenses, however, will be covered. Also, the amount of your monthly stipend will depend on the child's age, as we all know that tweens' Bieber swag costs more than the adorable little onesies that babies wear.

Health Care

Foster parents are given a medical card for each child. This card should cover all of the child's medical expenses, including preventative care and emergencies. Do not pay bills out of pocket. Before taking your foster child in for preventative care and checkups, contact DCFS to locate a doctor that takes the foster care medical card. Many hospitals also accept the card as payment.

Education

Public education is wonderful, isn't it? It'd better be. The state will not cover private schools or parochial schools. If you want the child to attend one of these schools, funding will have to come out of pocket or from another charitable source. The state will, however, cover the cost of special education if necessary.

This is part of a series on foster care in Illinois. We previously covered the application process and the qualifications required to become a foster parent. Interested? Call DCFS at 1-800-572-2390 or check out their website.

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