Foster Parents… Don’t Forget Finance 101

January 22, 2012 at 3:01 am 30 comments

All this recent stress about money got me thinking.  My knowledge and skills regarding money, credit, bills, taxes, spending, bank accounts, …. SUCK…. and this is a failure of the foster care system.  I aged-out of foster care at 18,  in high-school, and not in an ILP.

Before you tell me “all foster kids are required to take life skills” — I say bullshit and READ THIS from 2010.  This is one state, but 67% of the oldest foster children HAD NOT completed a Life Skills course that would help them to live independently and qualify for financial assistance.  The majority of youth said they had never completed a life-skills program, which provides instruction in financial management, cooking, housekeeping and other living skills.  Representatives of NJ stated that there were not enough programs…”

Well that is just fabulous…. don’t you think?   Kick kids out with no home, no jobs, and no skills.  Guess what happens to them?

As this non-profit leader says HERE:  “We go from ‘you’re in foster care, where you may handle $10 a month’ to ‘you’re responsible for everything’”

I am not going to spend the rest of this blog giving you statistics… you can find them yourself on the web.  I am going to spend the rest of this blog giving you ideas how to help and examples from my life.

The system can’t seem to get it right, so foster parents, IT IS UP TO YOU!

Finance 101 – Things to focus on with foster children…

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I.  BANK ACCOUNTS

I never had a bank account in foster care.  Where I lived, anyone under 18 had to have a co-signer.  Some states allow foster youth to open a bank account themselves at age 16-17 if they take a financial awareness class and then get a Court Order allowing them to open an account.  What a pain in the ass!

All foster youth are supposed to get an allowance.  Many bad foster parents do not abide by this rule and they pocket the money for their greedy selves.  The allowance is the RIGHT of the foster child.  In some homes I never got an allowance and in other homes I was given the allowance (like $5-$20 per month), but I spent it on stuff; mostly on self-soothing things like food, cigarettes, a nickel or dime bag of weed, dr. pepper, candy… In fact I never remember my “money” being monitored.

** If you have an older child in your home, open a bank account with them and suggest that they put in $1-5 per month in it.  If the child leaves your home for another home, make sure you take them to get the money out.  Be honest and show the child that it is their money.  If the child ages-out of your home, the bank account will be there to do with as they wish (with alittle money!).  Also —

1)  It gives your foster child an idea how bank accounts work.  When I went to get my first bank account, I was confusedI still am.  I had/have no idea what interest rate is or how it is calculated.  I had no idea that some banks charge money to open an account and some are free.  I had no idea that some banks had charges for some things and other banks did not.

2)  It gives your foster child a chance to practice balancing a budget and keeping track of expenses.  I still can’t do this successfully…

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II.  CREDIT CARDS

When my dog Moonlight was really sick and needed lots of vet care, I signed up for a card call “Care Credit.”  It was my life-savor, because I did not have the money to pay for her treatment.  The card claimed that if I pay the expenses by the due date (usually 6 months – 1 year), I would have to pay NO INTEREST.  Honestly, at the time, I did not even care, because I needed the card …but the truth is, I did not understand it.  Every month I have been paying the “minimum” that was required.  I thought that “minimum” meant that it would pay off my bills by the due date.  Well, 6 months after the first time I used it, I got a letter telling me I owed alot of money or all the interest would be added to my balance.  WHAT?  I was paying every month?

24.99% interest

What I did not understand or realize was that the “minimum” really meant nothing.  I needed to be paying more than the “minimum” to pay my bills by the due date.  I still don’t know what the “minimum” really means.  I still don’t understand the card or how it works.  I have NO CLUE what I am paying… All I know is that I went from NO interest to 24.99%, even though I paid the “minimum.”

Talk to your foster children about credit cards.  How dangerous they are and how almost dishonest they are because they hide behind pages of information that is written so small, no-body can read it and people like me, can’t understand it.  Explain interest!  How it can take forever to pay off high-interest debt and how interest is calculated (I still need to learn that).  When foster youth age-out, they are going to have enough problems, help prevent them from drowning in debt too.

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III. PAYING BILLS

Paying bills is part of life, but if you are not familiar with it, it can be overwhelming.  FP, when you pay your bills, let your foster children watch and discuss which ones are monthly, which ones are 2 times a year, etc.  Honestly,  I still mess up alot.  I forget to pay them, like my phone bill.  I don’t use the phone that much, so it is not something that is always on my mind.  When they are all due on different dates, sometimes I forget ….and then fuck, one is late and I owe more.

Dr. Val recently came up with a really good tool to help me and I am going to pass it on to you to share with your foster children.  She gave me a calendar with pictures of the ocean, to hang where I am most likely going to drop my mail or open it.  She choose oceans because she said since I liked oceans, I would look at the calendar.  Smart Dr. Val!  I have a tendency to drop my mail on the counter in the kitchen by the frig and forget about it.  So I hung the calendar on the frig.  When I open the mail, I am supposed to mark that day on the calendar and then with a star or some other symbol, mark the due date on the calendar.  She even gave me some different color pens, so that I can choose a color for each bill.

It may seem idiotic to many of you, but with all the chaos in my life and not being financially savvy, tools like this help.

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IV.  SERVICES AVAILABLE

Foster kids that age-out are deserving of and are eligible for some services.  I don’t know all of them because I personally don’t wish to be “indebted to the system” anymore.  Many foster youth feel like I do, but when predictiments happen, it is important that young adults are aware of where they can get help.

Make sure your foster child knows about housing services, food services, job services, WIC, legal services, and even money for education.  Aged-out kids tend to get in situations where help is needed; starving, pregnant, injured, homeless, etc.  Knowing about the services gives them a place to start.  For example, JobCorps helps kids get a GED and a job.  Maybe I could have gone to JobCorps instead of being homelessness.  Other places can help with college or community college.  There are special scholarships and funds for foster kids. If your worker doesn’t mention them, ask your school counselor.  Someone will know something.

I know that you are probably overwhelmed with your current foster child’s needs; taking them to therapy, taking them to court dates, behavioral issues, school issues, medical issues, yadda, yadda, yadda….  but being a “parent” means making sure your kids have the skills and knowledge to survive as adults.  Knowledge and understanding about money is part of navigating adulthood successfully.

When I was growing up, no-one cared about helping me navigate through the financial waters, so I have been drowning.  I simply have very little understanding of financial issues.  Because of that, I am fucked and have very little idea of how to fix it..

It shouldn’t be that way….

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30 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Cookie  |  January 22, 2012 at 4:18 am

    Excellent list. This should be required reading for all foster parents. Although if I’m honest, I am also confused by some money stuff (interest rates for example). But finances is a life skill and many people are lacking this.

    I’m really glad that Jessie is in your life. It sounds like she’s going to help you navigate some financial stuff.

    Reply
  • 2. serfmom  |  January 22, 2012 at 4:30 am

    LT, quite honestly MOST teens don’t have life skills, whether they are in foster care or not. The difference is that the kids not in care have a family to go back to with questions and get guidance when they have trouble. I am glad you have your firends mom to help guide you.

    Reply
  • 3. Broken  |  January 22, 2012 at 7:57 am

    LT, Thanks for the list. I will bookmark this post. In the next few months, I start a mentoring program for some aging out foster-sweetie like you. I will pass along all your ideas.

    Go here to find videos and games to help learn:
    http://www.smckids.com/

    There are also episodes on YouTube. —- Cartoons!!!

    Reply
  • 4. Kryss  |  January 22, 2012 at 8:41 am

    A heads up… people who have been in foster care can develop behaviors around money just like they can around food. All kinds of specific behaviors around poverty, shopping, not wanting to spend or spending too much can appear and suddenly.

    I hope that you, KC’s mom, Dr. Val and your lawyer can come up with ways to work with the settlement money. It can be difficult and hard, but it is possible. Take your time, and you will figure it all out.

    But… I do want to tell you that this stuff is confusing for people who come from healthy homes too. Many many young adults fall into a credit card trap. The language is written for people with advance degrees. Many young adults end up in debt, don’t know how to pay bills, or a basic idea of how fiances work. At my job I work on teaching financial literacy classes to adults much older than you. It is something that is hard to understand.

    The advice you gave out in this post is very good for foster parents.

    Thank you and Take care,

    Reply
  • 5. Nightaura  |  January 22, 2012 at 9:13 am

    I try to teach my kids all of the above, but sometimes just keeping them out of trouble is hard enough. I always talk about what bills I have to pay, what would happen if i paid one a day late (how silly is it that if I pay on the 10th, I owe $100, but if I pay on the 11th, it goes to $139! And how it is not the date I MAKE the payment that matters but the date THEY get the payment.) Thankfully the state I am in does not kick kids out as an 18th birthday “present”. I had one son who graduated HS and was going to college while still living with us. We had set up an account where every month he stayed with us beyond HS, we put $50 in it for his future. He also would get another $50 a month to plan, shop for and cook 2 meals a month and then he had to buy 1 personal care product with that. Anything left was his to do as he wanted to with. The meals had to be balanced and we worked with him so he could see what that meant. That was stopped by an intern who twisted the intent around and said we were “making him use his allowance to buy food for the house”. Ummm..this was not an allowance. That was separate. So in many cases, the workers won’t allow us as parents to properly teach our kids. You have Jessie and also everyone here to help you if you need. I am helping out one of my FFS’s friend who is in FC and has no one. He is 21 now and almost done with school and will be done with DCF as well.

    Reply
  • 6. The Sleeper  |  January 22, 2012 at 11:24 am

    In my experience, many foster youth do not get life skills through the system. I have had many teens that never had bank accounts because they either kept moving to different placements, or no-one took the effort to open one with them. If I know my teens are going to age-out, I also suggest they get a job and put 50% of the money into savings. I don’t kick them out when the system does, but if they choose to leave, at least they will have a job and some money.

    Dr. Val’s calendar idea is great! Many people with mental illness have a difficult time keeping track of things when they get overwhelmed. Ideas like hers help make life more manageable.

    FWIW, I think you are doing a great job developing the life skills you need, such as managing money now and when you learned cooking for Moonlight last year. I wish someone had helped you when you were growing up, but you are succeeding now.

    Thanks for bringing this up.

    Reply
  • 7. Sunny  |  January 22, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    Hi LT,

    First, I want to say that I LOVE your blog. Love it. I love your honesty and expressions and I feel like you are so aware and that will make you extremely successful in life, even if successful means simply “happy” – which I’ve learned, and is nevertheless important.

    I’m not aware that, in WA state, we give kids allowance. I’m not sure, because I’m being licensed for infants. But, you’re right about teaching kids about money – especially the older ones. Even if they family doesn’t teach you, you should have access to these resources. For a healthy infant in foster care, we get just over $400 a month. That MAYBE pays for a month of diapers, or formula.

    THAT being said, I grew up with my biological mom and stepdad, and they NEVER taught me about money. I mean, I remember getting a checking account at 16 (when I had a job – I never received an allowance) and asking the bank teller to help me balance my checkbook all the time, because I couldn’t figure it out – and I was always bouncing checks (not intentionally), because I had no idea how to manage money. At 18, my mom told me to go out and get a credit card, which I did. But she never taught me the importance of how to use it, or that I should pay it off… Eventually, I had five of them. At 21, I had to declare bankruptcy, which my bio dad had to pay atty fees for. Granted, it was MOSTLY due to medical expenses , but I had to include all my credit cards and other loans. I had to learn the hard way. I also had to put myself through college. And my parents aren’t poverty-stricken by any means…

    I was 25-26 before I learned how to manage my money properly. I was in college full time and lived on $1000 a month. In Seattle, that wasn’t a lot of money (I’m 34 now) – my rent was $550. I did use assistance, but it was hard. I had to teach myself everything I know about managing money and how to live on my own. My parents just totally skipped that part of parenting. 😦

    My point is that, you’re right. Foster parents should teach kiddos in their care about life skills. That seems a little bit common sense to me, but maybe it’s not to others. But, not all teenagers who come from biological families even get taught these skills. I’m proof. 🙂

    Reply
  • 8. michelle v  |  January 22, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    love this advocacy post! go LT 🙂
    ♥ michelle

    Reply
  • 9. Jodi  |  January 22, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    Great pointers, LT. I have problems even now at age 43 with financial stuff but what I found helps a lot is to pay my bills and do banking chores online as much as possible. I have a favorites folder set up with a list of bills I have to pay monthly, utilities, credit cards, etc. and they send me reminders a week or so before a payment is due. I was 18 when I moved out and I sure had to learn the hard way about bills and stuff. You are really intelligent and insightful, I know that you will do just fine learning financial busywork. We all have faith in you LT.

    Reply
  • 10. Becca  |  January 22, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    This is a great post LT. Very good advice. Thank you.

    Reply
  • 11. Steph  |  January 22, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    This is important for foster parents to read. There are some good inexpensive workbooks that foster parents can utilize to teach financial messages to foster children. Simple things like having a piggy bank in a child’s room can help focus on the concept of saving.

    Foster children who move frequently may experience different spending environments. There is no consistency in what children experience and thus it may be more difficult for foster children to understand financial concepts. Several comments focus on the fact that non-foster children and adults don’t understand these issue either, however, the reality is that those individuals have somewhere to go or someone to ask or possibly even someone to help fix the problem (debt, unpaid bills).

    This is old, but it is a guide created by Casey Family Programs that breaks down life skill lessons that foster parents can teach by age of child. It covers everything from nutrition to relationships to jobs to STDs.

    http://www.caseylifeskills.org/pages/res/rsf%5CRSF.pdf

    Reply
    • 12. Terri  |  January 22, 2012 at 3:32 pm

      Thank you for the link!!

      Thank you LT for this blog!!

      Reply
  • 13. caroline  |  January 22, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Good and helpful blog. You should seriously write a Foster Parenting 101 book with all your tips and ideas. 🙂

    Reply
  • 14. MamatoMany  |  January 22, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Great blog!

    Reply
  • 15. Crumble  |  January 22, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    LT,

    Yet another NEEDED but AMAZING post! I find a lot of kids are not prepared for their financial future. I was never taught how to manage money. I worked from grade 6, but had nothing to show for it when I graduated because my parents (who suck at money management) never taught me to save. They never encouraged me to have a bank account, either.

    I know a few people that are in their 30s, are still living at home, and are in substancial debt (even though they don’t pay rent).

    Money management needs to be taught to all people, but espeically foster children, because they most likely will not have the support of a ‘family’ if needed.

    Saving for emergencies and retirement is important, as is budgeting correctly. I am so glad you addressed this.

    And you are so right that every foster child should have a bank account – and they should be informed about all of the ins and outs of that account (monthly charges, interest, knowing that if you use your bank card at another bank you get charged $3-$5, which doesn’t seem like much, but it adds up – moreover, if you are only withdrawing $10, it is a 50% charge!!!!).

    This is such an important post because money has a huge impact on daily life… What we can, or can not enjoy, where we can live, what we can eat, what kind of care (medical, dental etc) we can recieve…. What is the number one thing that couples fight about??? MONEY… It impacts almost every area of life. Money really and truly is not everything – but it sure seems to impact a lot of areas of life.

    I hope you do make a book one day – there are so many things on this blog that should be taught to every foster parent, worker, parent, and child…

    Reply
  • 16. butterflysblog  |  January 22, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    Sweet LT – what an excellent informative post. So many things I had never thought of. You are so awesome. Thank you for writing this blog, and for just being you.
    – Butterfly

    Reply
  • 17. Foster Mom in Training  |  January 22, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    Great post, LT! When you apply for financial aid for college, it’s a federal form. It won’t just be based on the state where you were fostered. If you want to get your GED, you could check with the school district where you live. They often have night classes you can attend for free or a small fee. Then, you could decide if you’d like to take a college class. My cousin is currently taking night classes, including a math class, so she can earn her GED. She’s not paying anything but attending for a couple of hours once a week, for 6 weeks.

    Have you filed your income taxes since you’ve been working? You need to file both state and federal income tax. Let me know if you have any questions.

    I like the idea of the calendar. Use any tool you can to help you keep up financially. 🙂

    Reply
  • 18. Linka  |  January 23, 2012 at 9:54 am

    Morning LT! Like some of the other blog crew, I never learned money management either, and at 60 yrs old, am still learning and struggling. Just want you to know that my heart daughter gets $20 allowance every week, and the only thing she has to pay for is minutes for her cell (one of her Christmas presents). She finally decided that she wanted to go with the $50 a month unlimited calls and texting plan (it was her idea!) as she saw how hard it is buying a $20 card a week and budgeting out her calls and texts, then not having any allowance left over. Good piece of learning for her. So, now I give her her allowance monthly, and she has $30 left for the month. I get all of her hygiene stuff, and any school needs and expenses, plus give her money for when her bowling team has an away match and they stop to eat a meal (I am required to make sure she has 3 squares a day and snacks).

    Kudos for bringing this up, and addressing it so thoroughly. And it sounds like, for your age, you are way ahead of where I was at that point! Blessings!

    Reply
  • 19. RW  |  January 24, 2012 at 9:12 am

    Technically I think “minimum” payment means that if you pay any less, they will send your account to a collections agency. I believe the recent federal legislation about bank and credit card fees has some new rules about the minimum payment, and also explanation of the minimum payment that has to be printed on the bill. This seems like a good article on it: http://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/help/what-the-new-credit-card-rules-mean-6000.php

    Which leads me to a suggestion for topic V on your list: how to follow the news and other sources of information to be aware of changes in laws or regulations or just what banks and businesses are doing, like new kinds of deals to attract customers and/or trick them into paying extra. For a start, use the search terms “consumer news” or “consumer financial news”. Then of course you have to figure out which sources to trust…a librarian can be helpful for that.

    Another topic you may not be aware of, LT, but is very important, is VI. Credit Reports. If you pay your bills late or don’t pay them at all, banks (most companies who issue credit cards are banks, unless it’s a card that you can only use at one store), utility agencies, phone companies, and sometimes landlords will report it to one or all of the three credit reporting agencies (which are private companies, not part of the government). They also report if you pay on time and how much. The credit agencies calculate a “credit score” for you, which represents how good they think you are at paying. When you apply for a credit card, any other kind of loan, and sometimes a new apartment, the bank/company/landlord can buy a credit report on you for about $25+ to help them decide if they want you as a customer/tenant. It is now the law that you can get a free copy of your own credit report once a year, so you can see what others are reading about you and challenge any mistakes on it, like if they mistakenly put some info about somebody else on your report. Unfortunately a lot of scammers on the internet try to fool people into ordering their credit report through them: read this page to avoid getting scammed: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/freereports/index.shtml

    Thought of another topic, VII. Insurance: medical, renter’s, driver’s, and liability (you would not need this unless you have a business or are rich, but it’s good to know about it because it affects a lot of things businesses do and will help you understand how the world works).

    Also, VIII. How to sue someone who owes you money, especially how to choose a good lawyer if you don’t have any money. You needed this! A fair number of ex-foster kids will also need to know how to sue for child support enforcement.

    Actually, “Using the Legal System” would be an excellent subject for a whole new entry, since foster kids are used to “the law” just telling them what to do, and also not being able to do anything when they see others violating their legal rights or court orders. It’s important for them to realize that as an adult or emancipated minor, they have a lot more rights and they can get into a new mindset, where they can take actions to enforce those rights on others, or even sue over violations of their rights that happened when they were minors. Also, foster kids may know a lot about family court, but not understand much about criminal law for adults, as opposed to juvenile offenders, or civil law. Renters especially need to know what their rights are, since landlords often try to get you to sign them away in a lease or put illegal stuff in a lease to fool you into thinking that you don’t have rights.

    Reply
  • 20. Krista  |  January 24, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    Awesome, awesome post, LT. I grew up knowing about all of this stuff “in theory”, but I still can’t figure out how to make it work in real life! So you are not alone in this, dearest — but you are absolutely right that foster kids (and especially kids who are at risk of aging-out) NEED to know this to avoid being exploited.

    You are so smart!

    Reply
  • 21. jen  |  January 24, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    LT – I just thought about something you REALLY need to know and take care of. Someone else may have mentioned it, but in case they didn’t: Your settlement could be taxable income. What this means is that next year in January you will be required to file a tax return (I think you mentioned you’ve done this before) but you might OWE a lot of money to the government if any of your settlement is taxable. Ask your lawyer and make sure you set aside enough money to pay the taxes if you will owe any.

    I strongly suggest you go to a financial adviser. Some banks will let you see one for free because they are hoping you will invest with them. Be careful of these – a lot of them are honest but you really need to take Jesse with you if you want to use one.

    Thank you so much for that list. Our 14 year old that we are adopting has NO IDEA how to handle money. I’m trying to work with her and explain how it works but it’s hard starting from scratch. I’m going to show her this list so she understands why it’s so important.

    Reply
  • 22. JMR  |  January 27, 2012 at 2:26 am

    Even if they took life skills courses most of it wouldn’t sink in. They need life experiences like jobs and spending money they really earned.

    Reply
  • 23. Yvohcna  |  March 24, 2012 at 11:07 am

    I found your blog because I am a foster parent researching ways to teach kids about financial responsibility. I want them to grow up knowing how to handle their own money. Thank you for taking the time to write about your experiences.

    Reply
  • 24. All my best!  |  March 25, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Hi LT,

    The thing about those minimum payments and 24.66% interest? Well, if you don’t pay off the bill in full within the 6 month period, not only do you pay 24.66% interest going forward, but they go back and charge that 24.66% interest for those first 6 months as well.

    The unfortunate reality is that many, if not most, adults don’t even realize this, at least not until after they’ve been burnt.

    In fact, I’m an accountant, and most of my friends are professionals with college degrees in finance and accounting, who really should have known better, but many of them have fallen into that same trap as well, so don’t feel too bad.

    To be honest, I have 2 stepdaughters, and as an accountant, I did try to teach them, but I knew they wouldn’t listen. Seriously, no one ever does. We all have to make, and learn, from our own mistakes and this really is a lesson that only sinks in as a result of personal experience. As I knew they wouldn’t listen, instead, I planned accordingly, by starting a “bail-out” fund for them both, without telling them until after they were pretty much drowning in debt. (No, I’m not that generous. If either one had to move back home, of course we’d welcome them, but we’d also need a bigger house, and I really don’t want to move again.)

    I’m not blaming them, but rather regard them (and everyone else) as victims of the “loan shark” practices of credit card, marketing, and other companies, which not only enable this, but actively encourage it, basically deceiving people into believing we need to have absolutely everything imaginable, and should to run out buy it, right now! “Easy monthly payments”, “no interest for 6 months”, OMG!

    To me, it comes as no surprise that so many are now losing their homes and filing bankruptcy, and again, I personally feel the companies that knowingly created these circumstances that are causing so many to suffer so much financial hardship should be held both legally, and financially responsible–but I also know that will never happen.

    Dr. Val’s calendar solution is wonderful!

    Reply
  • 25. Siobhan mulligan  |  August 4, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    LT, I am wondering about some of the other services you are eligible for that might be of great help, such as disability, SSI, etc. while I think working is essential, there is NO reason for you to not take advantage of the financial aid programs available. If nothing else, look at it this way- the system helped create the mess you live with today, so why shouldnt it finance fixing it??

    Reply
  • 26. scottcammarata  |  July 2, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    Hi LT,

    I am a foster parent and right now we have little ones (5-7). Our MAPP training encouraged to teach life skills organically. If we are in the grocery store I explain coupons and debit cards, what sales tax is etc. We are also required by the agency to have a life skill each month and set a personal goal and continue with it until it is completed. We are held to this by our family worker, the case manager, and the case worker.

    We also took on playing store and bank to teach them about money. Another fp taught us a technique we are adopting, which is the store. We have good behavior/attitude jars that they can collect marbles in and when they get x amount (there is a chart) they can “shop” for something in our store. This has small trinkets up to homemade coupons for a mom and daughter date.

    We are licensed for teens as well and we are required to help them complete life skills. I love your suggestions and I want to put together a loose curriculum with these in mind for when we have teens in the house.

    PS Love the blog, its coming from a really honest place. Its brave and its awesome.

    Reply
  • 27. familywhodidcare  |  October 25, 2013 at 9:34 am

    I’ve read many of your other articles, and while I’m truly very sorry and sad you went through the horrific experiences you did, your writing is very insightful and helpful. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences.

    However, I’m really curious about your statement, “All foster youth are supposed to get an allowance. Many bad foster parents do not abide by this rule and they pocket the money for their greedy selves. The allowance is the RIGHT of the foster child.” I’m curious where you got this idea, partly because our adopted daughter (who first came to us a foster children) always thought along similar lines. (She never thought about having secretly used my business cell phone to run up a $1,200 bill in one month alone, then stealing another $200 cash out of my wallet while I was on the phone trying to deal with it… or the $2,500 we spent on her summer camp… or that we drove 4 hours each way to pick up her bio half-sis and give them both their first airplane ride together… or that we paid thousands in out-of-pocket therapy expenses…. I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the idea. Not giving her an allowance automatically made us “bad” and “greedy.”)

    There was nothing in my foster care or adoption agreements saying she was entitled to any allowance. (I just checked before writing this to be sure.) In our training classes, we were told allowances are an individual parenting decision. I wonder if you are referring to the very modest monthly “foster care supplement” states pay foster parents? If so, it is the foster parents’ right to receive this money, not the foster child’s. From our state’s Social Services webpage, “The foster care payment is strictly a reimbursement for expenses related to providing room, board, and supervision to children in foster care.” (The $275/mo. I received did not even begin to cover basic needs, let alone extra expenses for therapy…. or educational testing and support…. or the significant damages she regularly caused… or the many items she habitually stole from others and us…. or time missed from work to deal with all her legal and other issues.)

    We do not believe in “allowances” per se, but all our children (bio, adopted, step) were well-provided for in every respect (including the best private schooling available, tutoring, sports/social/religious activities of their choosing, music & art lessons, more than ample stylish clothing, healthy foods, cultural & recreational opportunities including domestic and international travel, a car to drive when old enough, etc.) and were given opportunities to earn as much spending money as they wanted. Also, to encourage healthy choices, all our kids also had the option of participating in our “soda program”: if they chose to order water in restaurants consistently, we paid them the $ representing our savings (not insignificant given how often we ate out). My husband also arranged part-time jobs for all our daughters. We opened bank accounts for our kids, encouraged them to save, and helped them get debit cards as soon as they were eligible. Our adopted daughter repeatedly overdrew her account (despite all our extra guidance), insisted her spending was “none of our business” (even though I had guaranteed the account and had to pay for her repeated excesses), and stole what she didn’t have to spend. When her cell phone was turned off (after she impulsively bought a $275 pair of True Religion jeans instead of paying her bill), she went online and used her sexuality to con a mentally-challenged man in another state to provide her an iPhone with an unlimited plan, as well as his debit card!

    While our daughter is now well-groomed, well-mannered, well-spoken, well-educated, and well-cultured, sadly the “life skills” she still knows best are the unhealthy ones she learned long before we entered her life.

    Reply
  • 28. Jennifer  |  November 23, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    My husband and I have been talking about adopting a child. We already have 6 of our own but we have always felt like there was still someone missing. All but the youngest three are grown and gone. We want to adopt an older child that really wants a family! No age requirements, no certain sex or even certain sexual orientation. Unfortunately, my health problems is keeping us from being allowed to adopt! Really??? Does this child really care if I am on an oxygen machine and takes a lot of medicine? I am with my youngest two kids all the time (15 & 8) and I would be with the adopted child too. I am 100% disabled by the military so this child would automatically have free college and living allowance. Wouldn’t this decision be the Foster child’s decision if they can handle my illness or not? We aren’t talking about a young child and God forbid I die the child would still have my husband, and two older brothers (29&25) and 4 sisters (30,22,15, &8) to protect them and to help them get through. What I guess I want to know is would a Foster child not want to get attached to me because I could die?? I really want to have this child be a full fledged member of our family. My kids even have friends that we count as ours. We are talking about adopting the kids that have been aged out of Foster care if they don’t come back allowing us to adopt but I think those kids might look at us as I don’t really need you and can leave when they want. I want a child that is mine forever and always.

    Reply
  • 29. Terry  |  April 24, 2016 at 10:45 pm

    I just signed up to take foster parenting classes , I must say that reading all these blogs have given me second thoughts. I’m a mother of 4, 2 of which are grown and married and the other 2 are teens , I thought I had something to offer but it kind of sounds like it’s impossible to do a good job! My eyes have been opened, guess I wasnt expecting so much potential chao.😒

    Reply
  • 30. Lilly  |  September 22, 2016 at 9:38 am

    Hi, i’m a working foster parent with an interest in how foster kids handle money. i stumbled upon this blog entry this morning while doing a google search, and would like your permission to refer to some of your ideas about banking & credit card use in an Independent Study I am considering. As a FP we are expected to do continuous training, and we are encouraged to investigate areas that interest us. Right now I’m toying with the idea of sharing your banking experience in foster care as a starting point, doing further research, then adding my own experiences of what has worked for me. I would have course give your link and credit for any portion I may use. Do let me know if this is acceptable to you.

    L

    Reply

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