Yes, you do get paid to be a foster parent. It is based on the level of care you are able to provide (dependent on the child's needs) and is combined with your educational and life experience. What does this monthly rate (which is equivalent to a daycare) cover? Day-to-day expenses; clothes, shoes, food, car seats, strollers, diapers, bikes, wipes, gas for driving to meetings and appointments, extracurricular activities etc. In order to foster, you need to NOT depend on that money as an income; it's not your job, it's your life.
I say all of this because it's the reality. I'm stretched. I'm tired. It's not easy. From attachment to tantrums to paperwork to various therapies – there's so much to learn! We're getting there – with a few more bumps than I'd like – but we're getting there. "There" being a new normal and routine that works. I know that one day we will experience what will likely be the hardest part; when our Little One returns home. I'm not sure when or how it will happen and I don't know how we will all respond. What I do know is that for now we will continue to treat this child as our own.
I don't say this to dissuade you; I say this so that you can see that it's not a job. It's a commitment, a mindset, a new way of doing life. It's being a family.
What do we get out of this? Watching the Little One erupt into fits of giggles over the sheer joy of dancing with our kids makes me smile and laugh. Seeing a skill that we have been working on over and over and over ACTUALLY BEING USED is rewarding (and I may have cried. Twice. Or more.) Having our Little One now run up to Gary with arms outstretched for a hug and cuddle is heart-warming – like, melt me now. Hearing our whole family cheering "Yay! Haircuts are so fun! Yay–the buzzer! Cut my hair! Yahoo!" is hilarious but I love that we work as a team to encourage experiences. Seeing this child "thaw out" and explode with personality is remarkable. This is why we parent. This is why we foster parent. Joy. Laughter. Growth. Teamwork. Opening up. Safety. Support. Love.
PS It is so, so hard for me not to share photos of the joy and laughter of this Little One, just trust me, the photos I have are pretty cute!