Should we pay foster parents?

Danyl McL blogs:

It’s a funny thing, isn’t it, that we don’t have volunteer police or teachers or doctors or nurses or prison wardens: these are all well paid professional roles. But if the state wants someone to raise a child from another dysfunctional family, something quite a lot more demanding than any of the jobs we pay people in the public service to do, and the success or failure of which has massive benefits and costs to society, then their labour is unpaid. Which means not many people want to do it. Which means we had CYFS, and now a ‘Vulnerable Children’s Ministry’ which is going to cost more than CYFS, which cost over a billion dollars a year to manage the foster system, which is a train wreck.

What would happen if you made foster parenting a profession and paid them 50,000/year? The cost would be $175 million/annum, a pretty small fraction of the cost of the current system, quite a lot of which could be scrapped. It would breach the convention that child raising has to be unpaid work though, which seems to be an important taboo in our society.

This is a debate worth happening. Foster parents at present basically get costs only which are:

  • Weekly care $204.46/week
  • Presents allowance $102.23/year
  • Clothing allowance $132.06/4 weeks

That comes to just under $12,500 a year.

I’d be more than happy to pay foster parents if it means we get more of them. I guess we need to worry about unexpected consequences such as people offering just for the money – but that should be manageable.

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