Should Stipend Increase for Foster Families?


By Alexa Tieu

The Idaho Legislature is in session right now and one of the topics on the docket involves foster care.

Increasing the stipend for foster parents could prove to be beneficial.

Anne Sharp loves opening her home as a foster parent.

Sharp says, "We've had 13 in and out over the course of four years ranging in age from newborn right out of the hospital and we've had them turn 18 in our home and go out on their own."

She doesn't do it for the money, but admits more would benefit the kids in her care.

"No one goes into foster care for the stipend. It's not a lot of money by any stretch but it's for the kids and it's to give them as normal of an experience in life as we can," says Sharp.

In regard to stipends, Idaho pays the least to foster families than our six surrounding states.This is something the Idaho Department Of Health and Welfare wants to change.

"We need to have foster parents. So I feel like we need to have the ability to recruit them, to keep them and to provide ongoing support," says Pam Harris, Child Welfare Chief of social work in Region 5, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

The Gem State currently ranks 45th to 49th in rates it pays to foster parents per age group.

Lawmakers granted half the amount the Department of Health and Welfare requested last year.

Harris says, "This year, we've gone back again to request the other half."

Legislators want to help but are somewhat leary.

"I think it should be a fair dollar number. But it shouldn't be a business just to say I want a bunch of kids so I can get money. They should want to do it," says Senator Jim Patrick, (R-ID).

"I do agree it's not about the money. It's about having adequate support to do the job that you've been asked to do around children who really have great need," Harris says.

And for foster parents like Sharp, a little goes a long way toward helping children in need.

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