Senior Care
6
min read

What Is Adult Foster Care?

Discover methods to cover the costs of adult foster care, including private pay, long-term care insurance, government programs, and more in this comprehensive guide.
Published on
May 22, 2023
Presented by Givers
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Caregiving for aging family members can be challenging. Adult foster care is a good option for those who need help with daily activities. You want the best for your family member. Learn more about foster care and how financial support can ease the burden of caregiving.

What is adult foster care? 

Adult foster care, also known as adult family care or adult residential care, is a type of long-term care arrangement where individuals receive assistance with daily living activities and support in a residential setting. It is designed for adults who require some level of help or supervision but do not need the intensive medical care provided in nursing homes.

In adult foster care, individuals live in a home-like environment, typically in a private residence or a small group setting, where they receive personalized care and support from trained caregivers. The caregivers, often called foster caregivers or adult family home providers, offer assistance with bathing, dressing, medication management, meal preparation, transportation, and supervision.

Levels of care in adult foster care

From assistance with daily activities such as meal preparation, housekeeping, and transportation, to medication administration or reminders, the level of care can be adjusted to accommodate changing needs to ensure that your loved one receives the appropriate support while maintaining their independence and dignity.

Here are some different levels of care:

  1. Basic care: Basic care involves assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing, grooming, dressing, and meal preparation. It typically includes supervision, medication reminders, and ensuring the individual's safety and well-being.
  2. Enhanced care: Enhanced care provides a higher level of assistance and support. In addition to basic care, it may include help with mobility, transferring, and managing more complex medical conditions or cognitive impairments. Enhanced care may also involve additional monitoring and coordination with healthcare providers.
  3. Specialized care: Specialized care is designed for individuals with specific medical or behavioral needs. This level of care may include services tailored to conditions such as dementia, Alzheimer's disease, mental health disorders, developmental disabilities, or other specialized care requirements. It often involves caregivers with specialized training and expertise in managing these conditions.

The exact terminology and definitions of the different levels of care can vary by state or region, as each jurisdiction may have its regulations and guidelines. Check with local adult foster care agencies, state licensing authorities, or social services departments to get more specific information on the levels of care available in your area.

Adult foster care vs. assisted living facilities

Unlike assisted living, adult foster care often involves care providers living in residence, creating a familial environment that enhances the level of support provided. This option offers greater flexibility in tailoring assistance to individual needs, ensuring a more personalized caregiving experience.

Foster care recipients access assistance 24 hours a day, ensuring help is readily available whenever needed. While assisted living also provides round-the-clock care, foster care always has awake staff, guaranteeing immediate attention to emergencies or concerns. Care assessment and planning are integral parts of care, with health providers working closely with individuals and their families to create personalized plans to address specific needs.

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How to pay for adult foster care

The average price of adult foster care in the United States can vary significantly depending on the location, level of care needed, and the specific services provided. There may be financial implications when an elderly parent moves into a family member's home, requiring adjustments to accommodate their care needs.

Some common means of financial assistance for family caregivers include: 

Private pay

Individuals or their families can pay for adult foster care out of pocket using personal savings, retirement funds, or other financial resources, which may be an option for those with the financial means to cover the costs.

Long-term care insurance options

If the individual has a long-term care insurance policy, it may provide coverage for adult foster care services. Carefully review policy details, coverage limits, and eligibility criteria to ensure they align with caregiving needs. Consulting with insurance agents or financial advisors specializing in long-term care insurance can provide valuable guidance in selecting the most suitable policy.

Medicare coverage 

To access financial assistance through Medicare for adult foster care, family caregivers start by reviewing the eligibility criteria and coverage options provided by the program. Consult with healthcare professionals like doctors and social workers who help navigate the application process and provide the necessary documentation. Researching Medicare Advantage plans may offer alternative avenues for financial support.

Medicaid support

Family caregivers seeking financial assistance for adult foster care can explore Medicaid programs by contacting their local Medicaid office or visiting the official Medicaid website. Gather relevant financial and medical information and complete the application process, ensuring accurate and thorough documentation. 

State-specific Medicaid programs and waivers

Family caregivers can find information about state-specific Medicaid programs and waivers by visiting their state's Medicaid website or contacting local social services agencies. They should familiarize themselves with their state's eligibility requirements and application procedures. Engaging with community organizations and support groups can also provide valuable insights and resources regarding available programs and waivers.

Social Security benefits and supplements

Visit the official Social Security Administration website or contact their local Social Security office. They should review the eligibility criteria and necessary documentation for different benefit programs and consider consulting with financial advisors or elder law attorneys to maximize their financial assistance opportunities.

State-based, non-Medicaid assistance programs

Research state-based, non-Medicaid assistance programs by visiting their state's official government websites. These programs may offer various financial aid forms, including respite care services, caregiver training programs, or grants tailored to adult foster care. Conducting thorough online searches and networking within caregiving communities can help uncover these valuable resources.

Veterans' programs for adult foster care

Family caregivers can explore veterans' programs by contacting their local Department of Veterans Affairs office or visiting the VA's official website. Familiarize yourself with these programs' specific eligibility requirements, documentation, and application processes. Seeking assistance from veterans' service organizations or speaking with veteran care coordinators can provide further guidance and support.

Reverse mortgages, loans, and life insurance policies

Other financial options include reverse mortgages, loans, or life insurance policies. Consulting with financial advisors or mortgage specialists gives you valuable financial insights to cover caregiving expenses. Before committing to these options, take the time to understand the terms, potential risks, and long-term financial implications.

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Providing adult foster care in your home

Legal and regulatory considerations

When you care for a family member in your home without seeking certification, you are generally operating as an informal caregiver. However, certification to provide family adult foster care involves obtaining a formal license or certificate from the appropriate licensing authority or social services department. This process typically requires meeting specific criteria, such as caregiver qualifications, training, home safety standards, background checks, and adherence to state regulations governing adult foster care.

Oversight and monitoring

When caring for a family member without seeking certification, there is generally little to no formal oversight or monitoring by external agencies. When you become certified as a family adult foster care provider, you are subject to ongoing oversight and monitoring by the licensing authority or social services department, which may include periodic home visits, assessments, documentation requirements, and compliance with regulations and standards. This oversight ensures the safety, well-being, and quality of care provided to the individuals in your home.

Reimbursement and financial support

When caring for a family member without certification, you generally do not receive financial reimbursement or support from external sources. As a certified family adult foster care provider, you may be eligible for reimbursement or financial aid through programs such as Medicaid or other assistance, depending on your state and the specific eligibility criteria. These programs may provide financial assistance to help offset the costs of providing adult foster care, including room and board and caregiving services.

Consult with your local licensing authority or social services department to understand the specific requirements, regulations, oversight, and financial implications of becoming certified as a family adult foster care provider in your jurisdiction. 

Find the perfect care for your loved one

Adult foster homes present a valuable caregiving option that offers a home-like environment and personalized care for needy individuals. Family caregivers must understand the characteristics of adult foster care, its differences from assisted living, and the levels of care available. Equally important is exploring the financial considerations and payment options that can help ease the financial burden of adult foster care. 

By unlocking the available financial support, ensure your loved ones receives the care they deserve without compromising their economic well-being. Caregiving is a noble and challenging journey, and with the right resources and knowledge, family caregivers can navigate the adult foster care landscape with confidence and peace of mind.

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