Clothing In Foster Care

If you haven’t noticed, but could probably imagine, being in foster care means you’re probably not dressed in the named brand or “popular” clothing all the time. Not that there’s anything wrong with clothes that aren’t name brand but my point is there’s not much of a selection in clothing being a foster kid. And you know how kids are in school. Not dressing like most of the kids, being in foster care, not fitting in; it makes you feel uncomfortable at times.

Growing up my family was never really materialistic. My mom loved to shop, but we didn’t have to have top of the line. We had what we could afford and maybe a little more but we weren’t trying to keep up with the Jones’ and perfectly content. After my mom passed away and my step mom came into the picture that kind of thinking really changed around my household. Nice things were built up and we became a very materialistic family. Eventually not wearing popular clothing was being used as punishment. I was told that I was going to be mad fun of and I was. They would pick out the stuff that they knew would get the kids making fun of me at school.

When placed into foster care I was still in this frame of mind. We didn’t bring much into foster care with us just mostly the clothes on our backs. My parents did bring a suitcase with some clothing for me and my brothers a little later. We need to have some extra clothing and our emergency placement was given a voucher to get us some things to start us off in foster care. As you can imagine that stuff got wore out quick and I needed to get new clothes. So how do you get clothing in foster care?

There are 2 main ways to get clothes in foster care when you don’t have a job or too young to work. Donations and clothing vouchers. It varies from state to state on how their clothing voucher system works. Basically that state gives foster parents a clothing voucher worth x amount that can only be used a certain stores. The amount depends on the state and often how the child is. I’ve heard of foster families getting from $150 to $750 a year for clothing. Sometimes the vouchers are issued and in other places foster parents are allowed to bring in receipts. I personally remember getting around $350 to $450 allocated to clothing a year.

Now to begin with $450 is not a whole lot of money when you’re talking about dressing a 15 year old boy for a year. If you think about everything needed; underwear, socks, shoes, pants, shirts, coats etc. The price tag really adds up. This can even be more troubling when you’re going through a growth spurt. Many times you have to spend the vouchers all at one time and places like Wal-Mart, K-mart, and target. Often times it’s not enough and donations are needed.

I was lucky and my foster parents were able to turn in receipts making shopping a little more flexible. They also took the time to help me shop smart. We didn’t have to spend it all at one time and make sure we got everything. I also was allowed to shop at J.C. Penny and get more quality clothes. I learned to shop pretty thrifty and stretch a dollar. I was able to get just as much if not maybe more really shopping the sale racks. I found that the clothes I got there also lasted longer if you make sure to take care of them.

Even though it was tough I learned many lessons. First it’s not about name brands but quality. I also found that by searching you can get the quality clothing for just as much and sometime less. I learned how to shop smart which carried over to other areas of my life as far as budgeting and managing my money. What have your experiences been with clothing in foster care?

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11 Responses to Clothing In Foster Care

  1. shellyx6 says:

    I receive $75 for each placement but it doesn’t arrive until 30 days LATER. I guess the state doesn’t figure it’s an emergency when kids arrive with nothing. :/ I shop at resale shops mostly. Even so, it adds up.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for writing about this and hopefully bringing it to light for many who may not think about this issue. That is always a concern when kids first come to us. I think we’ve only had one child come to us with more than the clothes they were wearing. And you make an excellent point that when you have to get everything – underwear, socks, shoes, etc. it all adds up fast. Hopefully if some people see this they will find a way to donate to foster families they know when they get placements. It would be a huge blessing to the children and the foster families. Thanks for your blog!

  3. Imafoster says:

    Thank you both for taking the time to not only stop by but give feedback. I was (and really still am) pretty self conscious and like every kid I really wanted to fit in. I remember many times when people would donate clothes and they would bring them to our foster home for us to go through. Though it may sound strange we were all really excited. I really urge people to take their kids old clothing and donate it to foster kids. It means more than they know!

  4. CherubMamma says:

    We get a one-time $100 clothing allowance after a child arrives in our home. We have to save receipts and our agency reimburses us about a month later. Then, we are supposed to allot $1.45 a day out of our per diem to go toward clothes for the children. It works out to just under $45 dollars a month that we are “supposed” to spend on our kids and their clothing. Me…I just buy them something new almost every time I go to the store and I make sure they have all that they need.

    My kiddos are little so name brands mean little to them. However, I do ensure that they are dressed VERY nicely every single day. They have huge wardrobes with clothes they like.

    It always breaks my heart to hear about foster kids having to shop only from the clothing allowance or thrift stores. They already have it tough enough…they should get to wear nice clothes and foster parents should provide.

  5. mshrmit says:

    When we first get a placement, the state sends us a $50 voucher 30 days after they show up, that we can only use at one store in one specific location. Obviously, we have to do a major shopping long before that. We start at a thrift store, but go to a mall after that to fill in what we couldn’t find cheaper, along with buying stuff like underwear and shoes that I refuse to buy used. Other than that, I give all my kids (foster and bio) $50/month for clothes. Up to 6th grade, if they don’t use it, it gets rolled back into the budget. 7th grade and up, however, anything left over gets set aside and is added to the next month’s total. The older kids tend to have pricier tastes. 🙂

    I’m not really sure how much we are “supposed” to allocate/month, but this seems reasonable, and is what we do for our bio-daughter as well, so nobody is getting special treatment.

  6. Rose says:

    We buy new clothes for our kids all the time. My wife is very adamant that people make judgement based on clothes and she wants any kids we foster to look and feel amazing.

    We have plenty of money from their board check to buy them clothes about every 3/4 months. They are growing so it’s necessary. And we shop regular stores – Target, JC Penny, Old Navy, Children’s Place. Sales are great, but I don’t buy thrift shop clothes for myself, I’m not going to it for the kids.

    They LOVE their clothes too. They constantly want to play in their closet and pick outfits. I think part of growing up and creating an identity for yourself has a lot to do with picking clothes, so we help them feel good about doing that. Just the other day someone in our neighborhood commented on how cute and put together and bright they always look. We were all pleased with the compliment.

    Thanks for sharing, your post reminds me that this IS a big issue for kids in care, and we are right to put resources and attention on how they dress. It’s not vanity, it’s about how you present to the wider world.

    • Imafoster says:

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing! whether we like it or not people do pass judgement on what you wear and how you look. There’s that thought that comes in to your mind when you think foster kid, some grungy troubled kid. Dressing well (especially bright cheery colors) make you feel better, more vibrant. Thanks for your work

  7. Mark Wootton says:

    We are completely new to this licensed not even a week ago. We immediately got 3 boys. They are 6,7, and 11 🙂 We are both well dressed and I think the kids should be also. My mother always bought us stuff at the mall etc growing up. But she was always amazed I would pick clothes at Wal-Mart also and be happy with those. ( My brother not so much ) I took the boys the next day to Old Navy and said let’s have some fun and boy oh boy they did 🙂 But it made me happy!! They got to pick their clothes and are happy with them. Luckily we live in a Great Neighborhood and the I now have school uniforms and clothes coming out of my ears !! But as boys I am sure they will be put to great use! I intend to use their money for activities for the kids. Soccer, Baseball, Bikes, and I would like to plan on Disney World if they are here long enough. I also have to say THANK YOU so much for insight into how they may be feeling because my Partner and I would have no idea since we can’t have kids and since they are our first some help on communicating with them. THANK YOU!!!!

  8. great post

    thanx for sharing

  9. Chasa says:


    I have a box of 4t clothes and shoes. all in GREAt condition. Washed and ready to wear.
    Instead of dropping off at second hand store I wanted to see if I could donate these clothes to a family who has a 3-4 year old that could use these clothes now. Do you or anyone else reading this have any suggestions for me or know anyone who has a child that needs first time clothes. Thanks in advance

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