501(c)3 Non-Profit | Empowering Haitian Families

Paying for Childcare – The State Department Says No?

Parents pay for their children’s needs, it’s that simple right?

Well, not quite.   Let take a look at a couple of things.

If you go to http://tomvanderwell.net/important-articles/  and scroll down to page 4 of the first article about how the US administration is about to make adoption harder, you’ll see a statement that seems like it’s not so simple……

Worse still, the proposed rules forbid families from paying for a child’s in‐country care once a match has taken place. This is a common practice, allowing parents to give their child quality nutrition, medicine, and childcare while they wait for the adoption to be finalized.

So you read that and it sounds like it is a horrible thing that will harm the children if it is implemented.   If a child is matched to a family, he or she should be able to begin receiving the type of nutrition, medicine and childcare that they would get once they are home, right?

I mean it’s pretty simple – if you are going to adopt a child, why shouldn’t you financially support your child while you wait?

There are a number of reasons that this isn’t as simple as it first appears……

Common Practice – the author of the article says that paying for the child’s care during the adoption is a common practice.   Excuse me, but when did “everyone is doing it” a good reason to do something?   If everyone cheated on their taxes would the author, Jayme Metzgar, advocate that we all cheat on our taxes?  Just because everyone is doing it doesn’t mean it is wise or good.

Accountability – Ask yourself, if an orphanage has 50 children and 20 of them are matched with children, are they going to give those 20 children more food than the other 30 kids?   Are they going to give those 20 kids medicine when they are sick but not the other 30?   Are they going to have more nannies caring for those 20 kids and less for the other 30?

No, of course not.  They can’t do that.  Keeping track of which kids get two bowls of rice and which ones only get one bowl would be a logistical nightmare.   “I’m sorry, K, you can’t have runny nose medicine, you aren’t part of the 20 who have families group.”

It’s not possible to do that, it is a logistical and accountability nightmare.   So then if an orphanage does collect monthly child care fees, what happens to that money? Two possibilities:

  • It goes into the general fund of the orphanage.   Let’s look at the example above.   Let’s say that orphanage is collecting $400 a month for each of the 20 children who are matched with families.   That is $8,000 a month that would go into the general fund of  the orphanage.   Can $8,000 a month do a lot of good for an orphanage, yes it can.  But if it goes into the general fund, then it is split equally between the care for all of the children.   So if you take that $400 a month and spread it out over all 50 children, then the adoptive parents who are waiting and paying $400 a month to care for their child are really only getting maybe $160 per month of support for their child.  That doesn’t seem quite as attractive for adoptive parents does it?
  • It gets “used” for something else.  Whether that is something legitimate for the orphanage or it is something less than legitimate (personal use for staff), there is the possibility that it could be used for something else, something outside of the care of that particular child.

Urgency – ask yourself, if an orphanage is overloaded, they have way more work, way more adoption paperwork to do, way more challenges to handle than they have the staff to complete the work and they have a choice to make.  Do they:

  • Work on the adoption paperwork that will get say 10 of the children closer to being ready to go home and reduce their monthly income by $4,000 a month.
  • Work on something else.   Adoption paperwork will keep moving but it won’t be done with the urgency and will keep the kids and the money there longer.   Maybe the “something else” will be something that raises money, maybe it won’t.   But either way, it won’t get the children home as fast.

Now ask yourself, if you were an orphanage director and you had a choice – allocate resources that will finish adoptions sooner and generate say $50,000 in income ($5000 in adoption fees per 10 of the kids) or do something else that will not advance the funding, which would you do?

Yeah, that’s the problem.  A monthly child care fee for adoptive parents does not create the urgency that orphanages and adoption agencies need to be able to get the children out of an institutional setting and home to their adoptive parents as quickly as possible.

The author strongly implies that monthly fees, while your child is still at the orphanage, are a common and good thing.   I disagree.

I think that the proposed rules that no longer allow that practice are actually a good thing.

So if an orphanage has 50 children and they have, let’s say 40 of the 50 (80%) matched with parents, and the actual cost of caring for the kids is $400 per month per child, how do they cover those costs?

Stay tuned, I’ll have some thoughts on that in the next article.

In the meantime, ask yourself, wouldn’t it be better to support families and keep them together whenever possible…….?

Tom V









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