Kris’ Corner- What Happens to Gifts?

by Andra Martinez

Some of you may be wondering what happens to all the things the child you are fostering accumulates? Now, some of this might be obvious. But, just in case there’s any doubt. I’d like to briefly touch on it.

As I mentioned previously, when a child enters the foster care system in Indiana a $200 voucher for Burlington Coat Factory is provided. In addition, there is a $300 yearly allowance, typically used on larger gifts (maybe a bike, a video game system, etc). And then there is $50 for birthday gifts and $50 for Christmas gifts.

Obviously, all of that money is intended to be used to purchase things for the child. So what happens to all that stuff when the child goes home? Well, it should go with the child, right?

What about all the things the biological family gives/sends home with the child at visits? All of it goes with the child.

But what if the clothes are too small? Still goes with a child.

What if there are toys a child no longer plays with? They, too, should go with the child.

Point is this: anything purchased by monies from DCS (or Children’s Bureau, because you’ll be licensed through them) should go with the child when he transitions from your home.

Now, assuming he is going back to his family of origin…in an effort to not overwhelm the biological parents, you could send things home bit by bit, as they are outgrown or no longer used. Or, you could obviously save them, and send them all at once. I for one, feel that would be very overwhelming to the family.

If he’s going to another foster family, and if it is a gradual transition, you could do the same thing. Otherwise, it would obviously all have to go at once (not ideal but it is what it is).

So all this is pretty straightforward, right? Like, it makes sense and would be what you’d probably do anyway, right? But this next piece is where some people get a little fuzzy; so, I thought I’d take a minute on this as well.

The other thing to consider is what happens to gifts which are given to a child, from anyone other than his biological family, while he is living in your home? Those also all need to follow the child. So, that means that even if you, as a foster parent, purchase something out of your own pocket for him and you are not reimbursed for it, it still goes along with the child.

For instance, you can’t buy an Xbox for the child for Christmas, and then if he is moved home or to another foster home, for example, in February…you can’t decide to keep it, claiming it’s “a family gift” or something to be used for “other foster children”.

I know this seems obvious, but more than once, it has been a bone of contention in the foster care world and something I have heard others debate. I, personally, can’t fathom that it would be up for debate…you wouldn’t consider doing that to anyone else, would you? “Here…I bought this gift for you, but if you ever decide to move, I’m going to need it back.”

Now the last possibility: what if you adopt the child? Well, once you become the adoptive parent, you can do as you see fit with the items the child has outgrown.

Want to give those clothes or toys away? Feel free.

Want to pass them along to another child under your roof? Go right ahead.

Want to burn them in the backyard (I have no idea why you would want to do this…but my point is you could)…the choice is yours to make.

What I mean by all this: up to the point where DCS is no longer involved, everything, and I do mean everything, remains with and follows the child.

Sincerely,

Kris