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What if I am caring for a foster child?

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed March 2023

In general, children under age 18 and under the supervision of an adult must be part of the adult’s SNAP household. However, if you have taken in a foster child, you can choose to include or exclude the child from your SNAP household benefits. 106 C.M.R.§361.240(F). And you can make this decision any time.

If you exclude your foster child from the SNAP case, the foster care payments and any other income you receive directly for the care of the child, such as child support or SSI, will not count as income to your SNAP household.  For that reason, it is usually better to exclude the foster child to maximize the SNAP benefits for the rest of the household. However, the foster child cannot get SNAP benefits as a separate SNAP household. 


Sam and Susan Smith have two minor children of their own. They also care for a 10 year old foster child, Jimmy, and receive $600 per month in foster payments. The Smiths can apply for SNAP for themselves and their two children (a family of four), excluding Jimmy in the SNAP household and excluding the foster care payments. Alternatively, the Smiths can apply for SNAP for a family of five (2 adults, 3 children including Jimmy). In that case, their income plus the foster care payments will be used in the SNAP calculation. 

For MLRI’s Know Your Rights flier go to: Masslegalservices.org/content/foster-care-families-and-snap

DTA Online Guide: See Appendix G for links to the DTA's BEACON 5 Online Guide for this section.

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