Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Why is the government the only entity that is allowed to withhold the money it owes you for an indefinite period of time?

I've read the articles accusing foster parents of "making money" and so I'm hesitant to even complain. And from what I hear, we actually have it better than some foster parents, because the agency makes sure our per diem is paid every month.

The per diem is a daily rate -- a flat amount which varies based on the age of the child -- paid for each night the child spends in my home. It's supposed to help off-set some of the costs of feeding and housing an extra person. (Adding two little people has doubled our water bill. The washing machine runs 1-2 times a day, the dishwasher runs 5-6 times a week, and that doesn't even include all the water for baths, hand washing, brushing teeth, using the toilet . . . That's one utility.) The reality is that we couldn't afford to foster without that help.

We're also supposed to get reimbursed (up to a certain amount) for some expenses -- clothing, hair cuts, school supplies . . . . The reimbursement doesn't come close to covering what most kids actually need, much less the things that it seems "every body else has" -- which is why I shake my head at the idea that anybody makes money doing this -- but it means we only have to go out of pocket for the extras.

For those reimbursements, every month we fill out the form requesting the money, attach the original receipts and mail it. Since L and O arrived, I have sent 4 months worth of expenses. We haven't seen a reimbursement yet. Currently, the state owes us around $633 in reimbursable expenses. If it were anyone but the government, I could probably sue them for failing to pay within 90 days.

We aren't in it for the money. But, we also aren't really in a position to float the government a $600+ loan with no interest and no definite date for repayment. If we were also having to chase down our per diem, I think we'd be seriously considering getting out of the system because we'd be owing interest on a credit card on that money.

Honestly, it reminds me of filing a tax return. If I owe the IRS, I'd better pay on time; if they owe me, I'll get the money . . . sometime.

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