When a child is taken away from his or her biological parents and made a ward of the court, someone must take over the day-to-day care and maintenance of the child. Most legal systems provide for this care through a foster care system. A foster parent is someone who is appointed by the court to care for the child until either the biological parent regains legal custody of the child or the child is adopted. Compensation for a foster parent is frequently provided by the court through a foster care payment system.
A child may become a ward of the court for a variety of reasons. In some cases, the parent is not properly caring for the child due to a drug or alcohol problem, which prompts the court to interfere. In other situations, a parent finds herself or himself in a temporary financial crisis and is unable to financially care for the child. Sadly, sometimes a child loses a parent unexpectedly as a result of a tragic accident and someone must step in and take over responsibility for the child until a permanent guardian is located.
In most systems, a foster care provider must be licensed and/or certified by the state before he or she is entitled to receive a foster care payment for caring for children. A background check, interviews, and educational courses are frequently part of the licensing procedure for foster parents. Many children who are in need of foster parenting have come from very difficult situations and, therefore, state agencies that approve foster parents must take all possible precautions to make sure the providers are stable, positive influences for the children.
During the time a foster parent provides care for a ward, the court usually provides a foster care payment to the provider. The purpose of the foster care payment is to reimburse the foster care provider for the expenses associated with caring for the child on a daily basis. The amount of a foster care payment will vary widely depending on the jurisdiction, the age of the child, and the level of care needed. Some foster children are special needs children, meaning the provider must provide additional care for emotional or physical disabilities from which the child suffers. Medical care, therapy, and counseling expenses that the child incurs are generally covered by the state or the court, as well under separate reimbursement or medical coverage arrangements.