Oregon foster parent sheds light on stimulus money disparities

HERMISTON, Ore. – As tens of thousands Americans have received their stimulus money, dozens of foster families, have not.

It’s not because they don’t fall under the income bracket, it’s likely because they’re fostering a child or caring for a juvenile relative but weren’t able to claim them on taxes, the previous year.

Jessica Miller from Hermiston and her husband have fostered ten children in under two years. They also have two biological sons and currently have custody of an 18-month old girl.

She said the costs add up quickly.

“A lot of the kids that come into care they have needs, they have traumas they need special therapy tools,” Miller said.

Oregon families do get paid by the state for fostering children, but among the three stimulus checks in the past year, Miller said many of them haven’t received anything.

“So when the stimulus payments come out that goes to the biological parent that had them in 2020, because they were legally able to claim them on their taxes because they had them that whole year. That’s leading to a lot of gaps for a lot of people because obviously now the kinship providers are not getting the stimulus payment for the children that they have,” Miller explained.

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Jessica runs Sweet Potato’s Closet in Hermiston, which provides necessities to local foster children.

She said it’s also affecting biological parents who have recently been reunited with their children.

“It’s also causing problems for children that were able to go home, their foster parents were legally able to claim them if they had them for six and a half months, in 2020,” she said.

While these scenarios are technically legal, Miller said these families could really use the stimulus money to provide for their foster children. She said often times, kids come into care with very little or nothing.

To see if there’s anything that can be done to help, KAPP KVEW reached out to the Oregon Department of Human Services, who hasn’t yet followed up.

For now, Jessica will continue to run Sweet Potato’s Closet, to offer free clothes, supplies and even furniture to foster families.

“Halfway through the month we’ve already seen 60 people, so we are really making a difference! These are our next generation we need them to be okay, we need them to be safe, we need them to be loved, we need them to be in the best situation that they can,” she said.

To learn about SPC, or how you can donate, visit their Facebook page. Every Child Oregon also offers assistance if a family needs it, all you have to do is visit their website.