Your Money

while you are in foster care

What happens to money I earn or receive as a gift while I am in foster care?

There is no statewide rule about what happens to money earned or given to foster youth. However, local social services agencies generally allow foster youth to keep any money they get. Some local agencies help foster youth set up bank accounts for their money. A few agencies require older foster youth to put a certain portion of the money they earn into savings accounts.

Do I have any right to receive financial support from the local agency or my foster parents while I am in foster care?

Older foster youth are eligible for a monthly stipend through their local department of social services. These “Independent Living” stipends are based on the needs of the individual youth, the availability of funds and the youth’s living arrangement. You can also apply for Independent Living grant money to pay for computers, other school related costs (including school rings and high school senior activities), costs related to transportation needs (such as bus tickets or drivers license/permit fees) and other things approved by the Independent Living coordinator or your social worker.

What will happen if I leave foster care when I’m 18 and I don’t have a job?

Some people who don’t have jobs are able to apply for and receive public assistance (payments made to or on behalf of a person by the government). However, most people who are not disabled do not qualify for any type of public assistance except for food stamps, now called Supplemental Assistance Program, or SNAP. The monthly SNAP benefit amount for a single adult is approximately $155.

If my parent receives social security while I am in foster care, shouldn’t I get some of that social security money?

If your parent is receiving social security benefits, you may be entitled to also receive benefits as a dependent child of your parent. If you receive benefits as a dependent, your social worker will place this money in a “special welfare account” for you. The money in your special welfare account can be used to meet some of your personal needs if your social worker approves the request. Sometimes the money is used to repay your foster parent or social worker for things they buy for you.

What happens to social security money I am entitled to because of my own disability? Will I continue to receive this money once I leave foster care?

Money you receive while you are in foster care because of your own disability is called Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Your SSI money also gets deposited into a special welfare account and used to pay for your care. When you leave foster care, any money remaining in your special welfare account is given to your parent, relative or guardian or to you if you are eighteen or older when you leave care. You should continue to receive a monthly SSI check after you leave care as long as you continue to be disabled. Be certain that you or your social worker provides your new address to the Social Security Administration a few months before you leave foster care so that your checks will continue to reach you on time.

Can I open my own bank account while I am in foster care?

Yes. Under Virginia law, minors (youth under 18 years old) can open their own bank accounts, such as checking or savings accounts. However, most commercial banks require an adult to be a co-account holder. You should talk to your social worker or foster parent about opening your own bank account.

If I have a child while I am in foster care, can I get child support?

Yes. You can petition the Division of Child Support Enforcement or the local juvenile and domestic relations district court for child support as long as your child lives with you in the foster home. To petition for child support, you must have the name and address of the other parent of the child.