What Does (and Doesn’t) Foster Care Pay For?

Tish Gallegos Foster Care

We like to be as transparent as possible when it comes to money and foster care. It’s a touchy subject, of course. After all, in a perfect world the foster system wouldn’t cost a foster parent a single dime. (Of course, in a perfect world there wouldn’t be any need for the foster care system.) But there might be a few costs, most of them occurring at the beginning of the process, that you should be aware of.

We think it’s important for you to know what foster care does cover and what it doesn’t. Let’s take a look at a few of the money issues that come up when it comes to foster care.


Background Checks

You’ll need to pay for the required background checks that everyone must go through. There will be a minimum of one background check required, but there may be as many as three. It’s also necessary to get a background check performed for other adults living in your house, such as a child home from college or a grandparent.  

Certifications and Screenings

You’ll need to take classes and be certified in CPR. There may be other health screening that may or may not be covered by your insurance.

Your Home Might Require Minor Updates

When you decide to become a foster parent, someone who works with foster care will take a tour of your home. The space you plan to give the foster child needs to be specifically identified, and the right number of smoke detectors near bedrooms need to be verified. Some of these safety features will be age-dependent, as the youngest foster children will require child-safety features throughout the home.

You’ll Need a Phone

Foster parents need to have a working phone and not let the service lapse. While most everyone already has a phone, it’s important to know that it is an expense that’s a requirement for being a foster parent.


Foster Care Training

There is no cost associated with foster care training. We’re happy to have you!

Food and Other Necessities

You provide the shelter, and we’ll provide the basics that a child needs, such as food. Foster parents are given around $650 to $850 a month to care for the food needs of a foster child and other basic necessities (toiletries, etc). The amount received changes depending on the area you live in California and the needs of the child.


Kids receive a yearly clothing allowance so that they can have reasonably-nice clothing to wear. Depending on how long the foster child is in your care, you might not have much to do with this process.


You won’t have to worry about the insurance needs of a foster child in your care. The foster child will receive both health insurance and dental insurance through Medi-Cal.


With all of the child’s basic needs taken care of with the monthly payment, keeping a foster child shouldn’t cost you anything more once they are in your care. But there are some costs that foster parents incur simply because they want the foster child to feel like they are part of the family. This can include presents, such as birthday and holidays. It might also mean taking the foster child on day trips to amusement centers or parks. It could also mean taking the child on family vacations, if these are approved by the foster care worker. While the basics might be covered, most foster parents find themselves spending a bit more to make the child feel as included as possible.

We certainly don’t want potential foster parents to suffer financially just because they want to help children, and that’s why we’ve made the financial process as easy on them as possible. We hope you’ll realize that the small outlay of funds mentioned above will be worth it when you realize what the foster care process means to your life and that of any children you end up helping. If it sounds like something you can handle, we’d love to help you get the process started. Contact Contra Costa County today and we can help you help needy children in the area!