Five Dos & Don'ts When Certifying Households with Foster Children
If households at your site have foster children, you need to know how to certify these households for eligibility, rent, and unit size. To do this right, you’ll need to know when to count foster children as household members and when not to, and how to deal with income and allowances.
We’ll give you five dos and don’ts to keep in mind when certifying households with foster children to make sure you correctly determine household size and income.
Count Foster Children When Determining Unit Size
To determine how many bedrooms a household should have, you must get an accurate count of the people who will live in the unit. HUD requires you to count foster children when determining unit size. For instance, suppose a household applying to your site consists of two adults, their two children, and a foster child, and your occupancy policy is two people to a bedroom. In this case, you must count the foster child and give the household a three-bedroom unit [Handbook 4350.3, par. 3-23(E)(6)(b)(4)].
Don’t Count Foster Children When Determining Household Eligibility
Though you must count foster children when determining unit size, don’t count them as household members when calculating income limits for eligibility. For instance, if a household has four members plus a foster child, apply the income limit for a four-member household, not a five-member household [Handbook 4350.3, fig. 5-2].
Don’t Count Income of Foster Children
Exclude a foster child’s income from household income. Also, exclude all payments the household gets for the care of the foster child. For example, if a household gets a monthly payment from a social service agency to help them care for the foster child, don’t count that payment when calculating the household’s income for eligibility purposes [Handbook 4350.3, par. 5-6(A)(3)(g)].
Don’t Give Household Dependent Allowance for Foster Children
Normally, households are entitled to a dependent allowance of $480 for each dependent. But this doesn’t apply to foster children. So don’t give a dependent allowance to a household for a foster child when calculating the household’s adjusted income to determine its rent [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 5-10(A)(1)].
Give Household Child Care Deduction for Foster Children if Applicable
Anticipated expenses for the care of children under age 13 (including foster children) may be deducted from annual income if all of the following are true:
- The care is necessary to enable a family member to work, seek employment, or further his/her education (academic or vocational).
- The family has determined there is no adult family member capable of providing care during the hours care is needed.
- The expenses are not paid to a family member living in the unit.
- The amount deducted reflects reasonable charges for child care.
- The expense is not reimbursed by an agency or individual outside the family.
- Child care expenses incurred to permit a family member to work must not exceed the amount earned by the family member made available to work during the hours for which child care is paid [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 5-10(B)(1)].