“How much do foster parents get paid?” It’s a frequently asked question among prospective foster parents. As one might expect, there isn’t a single, straightforward answer. Monthly subsidy rates vary from state to state and the needs of the child in question is another significant factor.

Following we’ll cover basic information about foster care subsidies, as well as specifics concerning the four states in which Omni operates: Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana and North Carolina.

Foster care subsidies

The main thing to remember about monthly foster care stipends is that the money is a subsidy, not income. In other words, a foster parent is not an employee of a private agency or an employee of the state. So a foster care subsidy does not provide income for a foster family. The money is intended to pay for a foster child’s needs—and only those needs.

Taxes and foster care subsidies

As for the tax implications of foster care subsidies, it’s always advisable to consult with a tax professional in regards to reporting, deductions, and so forth. But it’s safe to say that the subsidies are not typically considered taxable income, nor can the money be considered income for the purposes of, say, a loan application. And it’s not intended to serve as supplemental income, which is one of the reasons why prospective foster parents are typically asked to provide proof of income during the application and approval process. Agencies want to be sure that a parent is able to provide for their own needs—and needs of their own children, if any—without the foster care subsidy.

As for tax deductions, the same kind of credits and deductions available to parents of biological or adopted children typically aren’t available for foster children. But you might be able to qualify for claiming a foster child as a dependent (if the agency you’re working with doesn’t accept donations). In that case, it’s possible that you might be able to deduct foster care expenses as you would charitable donations.

Fostering Children with Special Needs

It’s also worth noting that the foster parents who take care of children with special needs typically receive a more generous monthly payment, as special needs children require more time, money, and attention. But the definition of what qualifies as “special needs” differs from state to state, and the terminology states use to categorize special needs children also varies by state, as you’ll see from the following insights related to Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana and North Carolina.

Tennessee’s Foster Care Board Rates

According to the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS), “DCS Foster Care Board Rates are tied to the USDA cost of raising a child in the urban south, and include housing, respite, food, transportation, clothing, children’s allowance and miscellaneous items.”

Regular foster care board rates for Tennessee are currently set at $25.38 per day for children aged 0-11 and $29.09 per day for children twelve and older. Current special circumstances board rates are $27.92 for children 0-11 and $32.00 per day for kids who are twelve and older. (Special circumstances rates apply to a child that has a diagnosed medical/mental health condition or developmental delay that substantially limits a major life activity—one that requires a level of supervision exceeding that of their peers and one that also requires extra care due to physical, emotional, or mental disability.)

Any updates made to the above-mentioned rates can be found on DCS’ Web site, along with information about so-called “extra foster care expenses” (Christmas, Birthday, Graduations).

Kentucky’s Per Diem Foster Care Rates

As for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, its foster care rates “include the costs of housing, food, clothing, incidentals, personal allowances, haircuts, respite care, routine babysitting, non-medical transportation, sports/activities, and school supplies.”

In Kentucky, “the foster care rate structure is designed to give foster parents flexibility and autonomy to decide how to spend money for the children in their home,” but the state also provides minimum amounts that should be spent for clothing, diapers, incidentals and allowance.

Basic per Diem rates for children 0-11 range from $19.70 a day to $21.90 per day, while rates for children 12 and up are $21.70 to $23.90 per day. Rates for a child in an emergency shelter home are $30.00 per day, with rates for kids who are medically fragile or in a family treatment home range from $37.00 to $45.00 per day.

Indiana’s Foster Care Per Diem Rates

Meanwhile, Indiana’s Department of Child Services recently updated its foster care per diem rates for 2019. In Indiana there are multiple categories in which a child may be categorized, including Foster Care; Foster Care with Services, Therapeutic Foster Care, and Therapeutic Plus.

Depending on the age of the child in question, Foster Care per diem rates range from $20.87 to $26.15, and the range for Foster Care with Services (moderate developmental or behavioral/emotional needs) is from $28.64 to $33.92. Therapeutic Foster Care rates range from $40.78 per day to $46.06 per day, while Therapeutic Plus rates are $64.53 per day for children 0-4, $66.32 per day for children 5-13, and $69.81 for kids 14-18.

North Carolina

Last but not least, the state of North Carolina is an outlier in that it doesn’t publish foster care per diem’s on its Web site, noting only that monthly foster care payments are available, and that foster parents may receive financial assistance “until the child turns 18 or permanently leaves the home.”

For more detailed information about rates in North Carolina, call Omni’s state office at 919-334-0249.

Ready to begin the application and approval process?

If you’re interested in becoming a foster parent in North Carolina, Kentucky, Indiana or Tennessee, we encourage you to complete our information request form or to contact the Omni Visions office nearest your home.

For two decades Omni has specialized in providing training and support to caregivers so foster children can reach their fullest potential. Together we can provide a brighter future for our children. Give us a call toll-free at (800) 851-6108.