Ask a Mentor: Allowances and School Supplies

Volunteer Question

My second case involves a 15-year-old girl and a two-year-old boy, but they are in separate placements. A grandmother has the little boy, but "Patty" is in foster care. My concern right now is with Patty.

When I visited her this afternoon she told me that she still does not receive her allowance. After I asked her if she knew why, she told me that all she knows is that the foster parents tell her that she does not do her chores properly.

School starts in about a week and Patty said that she needs items which she planned to get with her allowance. I'm not sure whether to talk with the caregivers about this or not.

Mentor Answer

The dependency case manager (DCM) monitors the caregivers' general responsibilities as well as areas covered in the normalcy plan for the teenager. I would talk with the DCM—or send an email with copy to your volunteer supervisor (VS)—to see what the DCM knows about this situation.

There may be two things involved which you will want to check on: (1) is the allowance being withheld as punishment, which is frowned on, and (2) are the expectations for uses of the allowance appropriate. Check also to find out if Patty received the check that is given to foster children in August to buy new school clothes.

If she has some legitimate needs which are not appropriately covered by her allowance or the clothing allotment, talk to your VS to see if the Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program's nonprofit, Child Advocates II (CAII), can provide some help.

Patty may misunderstand what is going on, or she could have a justifiable concern that the DCM needs to work on with the foster parent. If issues like this remain unresolved, sometimes they lead to further problems that in turn can disrupt a placement.

With school just starting, stability in placement is very important. So acting on your concern is a good step in your advocacy for Patty.

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