The majority of youth who age out of care lack financial management skills and unfortunately most have very little or no savings. It is never too early to start saving money and being financially responsible. You will start receiving a monthly personal allowance of at least $100 when you are 15 years old and it is important that you start to budget and save. CFSA has programs and supports in place to help build your financial literacy and save but you must be proactive. 

Receiving Youth Monthly Personal Allowance:  If you are between the ages of 15 and 20 and you live in a group home or foster home then you are entitled to receive a monthly allowance of at least $100. The purpose of the allowance is to allow you extra money to pay your cell phone bill, see a movie, buy a special clothing item or simply to do something fun. This money is not to buy necessities that your resource providers are supposed to purchase such as toothpaste, deodorant, soap, school uniforms or food. Your foster parent or the group home staff will give you the money—occasionally you will receive your allowance from your social worker. You might receive all $100 at one time or it might be broken down into smaller amounts such as $25 a week or $50 every two weeks. It is important that you use your allowance responsibly. This means you shouldn’t just blow it every month on expensive items or use it to buy drugs or alcohol. It is a good idea to save $10-15 each month. Your foster parent or group home staff should help you to set up a budget and open a bank account.
Loss of Your Allowance: While you have responsibilities within your placement your group home or foster parent should not take away or reduce your allowance for minor reasons such as leaving clothes on the floor or not completing chores. Below are the reasons why your allowance can be taken away:

  1. You have unexcused absences or excessively late to school
  2. You receive a new criminal charge in juvenile or adult court. Or you have violations with a current case.
  3. You violate the curfew established by your foster parent or group home
  4. You abscond from your placement
  5. You fail to attend financial literacy trainings if you were schedule to attend
  6. You used your allowance inappropriately the during the previous month—on drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc.

Clothing Allowance: If you are 15-20 and you live in a foster home or group home then you should receive a monthly clothing allowance of $83.34 ($1,000 a year). Each August you will receive an additional $300 (a back-to-school allotment) to purchase clothing. You will receive this money from your foster parent or the staff at your group home. Depending on your maturity level and how responsible you have been your resource provide might give you the money directly and require that you submit your receipts. For some they will more closely supervise your clothing purchases. If there is a month where you do not need clothing, then the $83.34 will be saved for the next month (you do not lose it—the amount will just build up)
Independent Living Program (ILP) Stipend:  If you live in an independent living program them you will receive a monthly stipend to pay for your necessities such as clothing, food, transportation, cleaning products and other household items. If you do not have children, then your ILP is $695 a month. If you have children, then you will receive an additional $250 for each of your children. Your ILP is not meant to provide for all of your needs because there is an expectation that youth living in ILP programs will be employed at least part-time.
OYE Financial Management and Incentive Program: If you are at least 15 years old then you can participate in the OYE youth can sign up to participate in the E$CROW Bank on DC 10-module online financial management program. After you complete this program then staff will help you to open a special saving account. Through this special account Bank on DC  will match the amount of money that you save up to a certain amount. This means for every dollar that you save they will deposit either one or two dollars into your account. The money in these accounts can only be used for specific purposes such as buying a car, paying college tuition, or for housing expenses (rent, deposit or buying a home). For additional information you should contact your social worker or the staff at OYE (link to the resources page).
If you are having issue with your monthly personal allowance, clothing allowance or ILP stipend you should first talk with your social worker. Make sure to keep any receipts or documents related to the issues that you are experiencing. If your foster parent or group home staff withholds your allowance, ask them to provide in writing (email or a printed letter) the exact reason for withholding. You should also ask them what will be done with the money since you will not receive it—will it be saved for you; will they use it for other costs related to your care or will they simply keep it. Make sure to contact your social worker and address the issues as soon as they occur. Do not wait months to address issues.  You can also seek the assistance of the following people if you have issues related to CFSA financial resources:

  • Your Guardian Ad Litem (GAL): When talking with your GAL be specific about what is going on. You should send your GAL an email and call. Always leave a message. (link to the resources page).
  • CFSA Youth Ombudsman: “Yo BUD” If you are 14 years old and older you can contact the CFSA Youth Ombudsman when you are having issues with your placement (or any other issues as well). Talk with your social worker before you contact the Youth Ombudsman. (link to the resources page).
  • Your CASA Volunteer: Your CASA volunteer can be an important advocate and advisor when you are having issues. They can coach you on how to talk with your resource providers or social workers when you are having issues. They can also help with developing a budget, saving money and being responsible with your money. (link to the resources page).

If you would like to work to improve the lives of current and former foster youth you can take one of these following actions: