While we were busy focusing on In Seventh Heaven, our legislature and governor did a good thing for our state’s foster children – they agreed on, and the governor signed, a budget allotting an additional $3 per day to support each foster child.
While we don’t have official total numbers at this time – at least, not in terms of knowing exactly how the money is legislated to be spent – we do know that before the increase the system was providing a bi-weekly stipend of $199.36 to foster agencies and families for each child between 0-12 years of age and $288.26 for children between 13-21 years of age. This amount includes a semiannual clothing stipend of $199.36 for 0-12 year olds and $122 for 13-21 year olds.
So, double that $199.36 and add approximately $90 – assuming $3 per day for a thirty-day month – and we get $488.72 per month, or approximately $5,864.64 per year for children aged 1-12 and $666.52, or $7,998.24 for wards of the court aged 12-21. However, according to a June 14, 2012 news release by the United States Department of Agriculture, as of 2011 the annual cost to raise a child was actually $9,945 for a family earning less than $59,410 per year and from $12,290 – $14,320 “…for a middle-income, two-parent family.”
In other words, the gap between what Michigan’s foster care system provides and what it actually costs to raise a child is ranges from $1,946.76 – $4,080.36. Remember – these are the bare minimum numbers.
This gap is the reason that For The Seventh Generation exists. Our state makes sure our foster kids have a roof over their heads, food, some basic clothing and medical care – and not much else.
Right now, as you read this, there are foster children in our metro Detroit area who needs braces. Or a bed. Or season-appropriate clothing. Others dream of taking martial arts, music, or other lessons.
You know – the things that every child should have. The things that help children thrive.
We’re proud of this work and hope you are too. If you feel called to help make up some of the shortfall between what the state pays to support foster children and what it takes to provide for their actual needs, please take a moment today to volunteer or make a donation.