They’re needed to provide refuge, support, structure, love, and more to hundreds of Davis County and Northern Utah kids, from babies to adolescents nearing their 18th birthday.
Donations are also needed to help support the program, and those foster parents – who inevitably have to dip into their own pockets to meet expenses for their foster children.
“It’s hard to feed a child,” said MaryAnn McFarland, Northern Utah recruiter for the Utah Foster Care Foundation, speaking of the average of $16.79 a day foster parents receive per child they care for.
“Who feeds a teenager on that money a day, or clothes them,” much less pays for Christmas, birthday, and other special occasions, she said.
McFarland, a Davis County resident who is also a foster parent, said “that is the biggest myth,” when people assume Foster Parents “sign up” because of the extra money they’ll earn.
“I always tell people, who do you know who couldn’t use extra money? If this was an easy way to make extra money, we wouldn’t have to recruit foster families. They’d be lined up,” McFarland emphasized.
“They do it because they care about kids, like kids, want to help kids. This is a great way they feel they can impact kids’ lives,” she said.
“We have a huge need” for foster parents and donations to support the program, McFarland continued. “We don’t have a huge amount of homes for adolescents at all. They’re getting harder to come by. We just don’t have the homes.”
Licensing of foster parents requires that families “have income coming in to meet the needs of their family, without any reimbursement for foster care,” she said.
“It’s not like years ago, when someone could just live on foster care payments, didn’t have to work (otherwise). Now they have to have (another) income.”
“The current economy is difficult for all of us, but imagine you were a foster parent taking care of several children, including three or four children in foster care,” said Kelly Peterson, CEO of the Utah Foster Care Foundation.
“Such is the case for about 1,300 foster/adoptive families in Utah. Recruiting families is becoming more and more difficult because of the rising costs of everyday life.
“Children belong in their homes with their parents and siblings. Unfortunately, there are times when it is not possible, due to abuse or neglect,” he said.
“The families who come forward to care for these children and youth are remarkable. Most of them are not wealthy. Some already have children in their homes, and some are willing to provide permanently through adoption for children who can never return home,” Peterson said.
The $16.79 average foster parents receive per child per day compares to an average dog kennel fee of $25 a day. In addition, child care costs are not covered.
“Utah’s foster families provide so much more than food, shelter and clothing,” he said. “They are a shoulder to cry on for a frustrated teen with parents who cannot overcome drug addictions. They are the arms who hold and comfort the babies who cry into the night because everything familiar to them is gone, through no fault of their own.”
In addition, “foster parents are also the ones who, with meager amounts of money, willingly give it to a teenage girl to purchase her first prom dress.”
The Ogden office of Utah Foster Care serves Davis County to the Idaho border. Donations may be sent there, including money, and also gift cards.
The address is: Utah Foster Care Foundation, 1181 Christmas Box Lane, Ogden, Utah 84404. For more information, call Mindy Lundgreen at 1-877-392-1114.