ADULT FOSTER CARE: Provides Alternative to Nursing Homes
Adult foster care, a little-known program operated in every state to provide dependent adults with new homes and families, serves as a cost-effective alternative for individuals who do not want to live in institutions or alone in their homes, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. At least 100,000 adults are in foster care in the United States, half of whom are elderly and half of whom are disabled. In Pennsylvania, like many other states, the adult foster care program is small compared to other forms of elderly care: 77,000 people occupied nursing homes in 1999, whereas only 1,638 adults lived in 885 state-certified foster homes. Unwillingness to provide continuous care for an elderly or disabled person largely accounts for the program's minuscule size, and Pennsylvania has struggled to find means of elderly care provision beyond expensive nursing homes. Foster care givers provide a home, meals and transportation to medical appointments for the adult, as well as pick up medication, supervise its administration, and perhaps most importantly, provide emotional support. "For some people in the program, it's the first time they had real stability in their lives," Megan Steelman, director of placement services at the Philadelphia Corp. for Aging, said. In Pennsylvania, these providers receive $737 per month -- obtained primarily from Social Security -- for their care of each dependent adult and elderly individuals receive a $104 monthly allowance from the state. Amounts vary per state, as care givers in New Jersey are compensated $1,200 per month, paid by the dependent with a contribution from Medicaid. Pennsylvania state officials hope to expand the foster care program in July, when the state Department of Aging anticipates an increase in the number of Medicaid waivers to nursing home care, including permission for the use of nursing home alternatives, from 4,309 to 7,754 (Tofani, 5/23).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.