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 will help foster youth set up their own bank accounts.  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 while I am in foster care?

Older foster youth may be eligible for a monthly stipend. “Independent Living” stipends are based on the needs of the individual, the availability of funds, and type of 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), transportation needs (such as bus tickets or drivers license/permit fees) and other things approved by the Independent Living coordinator or social worker. See http://www.dss.virginia.gov/family/fc/independent.cgi

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

Some people may be eligible to receive public assistance payments. However, most people who are not disabled will only qualify for food stamps (also known as SNAP). You can learn more here: https://commonhelp.virginia.gov/access/.

See this section on employment during and after foster care: http://www.learnyourrightsva.org/learn-your-rights/employment/

What if my parent receives social security while I am in foster care?

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 an account for you.  The money in your 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?

Money you receive because of your own disability is called Supplemental Security Income (SSI). 

▪  Your SSI money is deposited into a special account and used to pay for your care.  When you leave foster care, any money remaining in your 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 as long as you continue to be disabled.  You or your social worker must provide your new address to the Social Security Administration before you leave care so your checks will 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. Talk to your social worker or foster parent about opening your own bank account. Learn more about managing money and opening a bank account: http://www.consumerfinance.gov/paying-for-college/manage-your-college-money/#o1

If I have a child while I am in foster care, can I get child support from the other parent?

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.  To petition for child support, you must have the name and address of the other parent of the child. http://www.dss.virginia.gov/family/dcse/

What about credit reports?

Youth aged 14-17 in foster care have a right to receive a copy of their credit report annually.  A credit report indicates whether someone pays their bills or returns borrowed money on time (including credit card payments).  Checking your credit report annually is important because sometimes another person may steal someone’s identification information, borrow money in their name, and not pay it back, making it difficult for the person to borrow money in the future. Your social worker or Independent Living Coordinator should assist you in checking your credit report, and in helping you to get it fixed if it is incorrect. If you are over 18, you can get your credit report yourself at www.annualcreditreport.com. See “Your Rights as a Consumer” for more information about credit: http://www.learnyourrightsva.org/learn-your-rights/consumer/