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In Some States, An Unpaid Foster Care Bill Could Mean Parents Lose Their Kids Forever

Brandon Cunningham, 42, and his wife, Sylvia, 39, relax at home in Roberson, NC on Oct. 21, 2022. The Cunninghams had their parental rights terminated for their son, Dylan, on the basis that they did not pay the cost of foster care, a cost that they were not notified about. They have taken the case as far as they can and are now waiting until he turns eighteen and they can be in his life. Phyllis B. Dooney for NPR.

Phyllis B. Dooney/Photo © Phyllis B. Dooney

In Some States, An Unpaid Foster Care Bill Could Mean Parents Lose Their Kids Forever

Brandon Cunningham, 42, and his wife, Sylvia, 39, relax at home in Roberson, NC on Oct. 21, 2022. The Cunninghams had their parental rights terminated for their son, Dylan, on the basis that they did not pay the cost of foster care, a cost that they were not notified about. They have taken the case as far as they can and are now waiting until he turns eighteen and they can be in his life. Phyllis B. Dooney for NPR.

Phyllis B. Dooney/Photo © Phyllis B. Dooney

In Some States, An Unpaid Foster Care Bill Could Mean Parents Lose Their Kids Forever

Parents who have their kids placed in foster care often get a bill to reimburse the state for part of the cost. NPR found that in at least 12 states there are laws that say parents could lose their kids forever if they fail to pay it. We hear about one family in North Carolina who had a child taken away because of an unpaid bill. And NPR investigative correspondent Joseph Shapiro takes a closer look at the laws behind such cases. In participating regions, you'll also hear a local news segment to help you make sense of what's going on in your community. Email us at considerthis@npr.org.

Brandon Cunningham, 42, and his wife, Sylvia, 39, relax at home in Roberson, NC on Oct. 21, 2022. The Cunninghams had their parental rights terminated for their son, Dylan, on the basis that they did not pay the cost of foster care, a cost that they were not notified about. They have taken the case as far as they can and are now waiting until he turns eighteen and they can be in his life. Phyllis B. Dooney for NPR.

Phyllis B. Dooney/Photo © Phyllis B. Dooney

 

Parents who have their kids placed in foster care often get a bill to reimburse the state for part of the cost. NPR found that in at least 12 states there are laws that say parents could lose their kids forever if they fail to pay it.

We hear about one family in North Carolina who had a child taken away because of an unpaid bill. And NPR investigative correspondent Joseph Shapiro takes a closer look at the laws behind such cases.

In participating regions, you’ll also hear a local news segment to help you make sense of what’s going on in your community.

Email us at considerthis@npr.org.

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