The childhood traumas of foster children may be the greatest barriers that they will ever have to overcome. Not only have they had to deal with the issues that caused their removal from their homes, they also must contend with instability and frequent changes of residence and caregiving families. Grants and assistance are available to help foster children find the stability throughout their adult lives that they lacked as children.
Foster Care Stipends
When a foster child is placed in a home, the foster parents receive a stipend for providing the 24-hour care that being a foster parent entails. The level of payment depends on a number of factors; foster parents who have special skills to care for children with special physical or emotional needs are paid more. In some cases, the state or foster agency may provide assistance for home modifications or other changes necessary to facilitate proper care of a foster child.
The Social Security Act, under Title IV, section E, provides for subsidies or grants for children who were adopted from state foster care systems. These grants are provided to allow families to adopt children from foster care when financial limitations may otherwise prevent them from doing so. Adoption subsidies under Title IV do not depend on the income of the adopting family. In addition, many states administer their own programs for providing adoption subsidies under the Social Security Act, which may be more generous than federal programs.
Adoption Tax Credits
The IRS allows taxpayers who adopt children to take adoption tax credits to offset expenses related to the adoption process. While the credit is limited in most cases to the total amount of expenses, adopting a special needs child allows the taxpayer to take the full amount of the credit, $13,170 as of publication. The special needs allowance applies to older children and minority children, as well as children who need specific treatment for medical or emotional issues. In 2010, the adoption tax credit became refundable in the year that it is claimed.
Foster children can benefit from greater educational opportunities. In many cases, foster children do not have a stable network to help guide them into adulthood and higher education opportunities. Many states have adoption programs that allow former foster children who either graduate from high school while in foster care or who were adopted from foster care to attend a state university free of charge. In addition, completing the FASFA form indicating that the applicant is an "orphan" or "ward of the court" may trigger a greater amount of assistance.