What Is Adult Foster Care?

When you hear the term “foster care,” you probably think about children under the age of 18 that are placed in foster care homes. But when we talk about adult foster care, a similar term is used to describe something entirely different.What Is Adult Foster Care?

How Adult Foster Care Works

Adult foster care describes senior care that’s provided in a home-like environment. In most cases, it’s similar to assisted living in the type of care that’s provided – adult foster care homes help residents out with activities of daily living, but don’t provide medical care. But they’re different in that they provide the care in a much smaller environment, usually only with two to four seniors living there.

Adult foster care homes generally, therefore, feel more like a typical home, just one with a few other senior roommates who also need care and a professional caregiver who lives alongside you onsite.

While certification and licensing for adult foster care vary from state to state, most states provide some type of licensing requirements for adult foster care homes. In some cases, they’re held to the same regulations as assisted living homes, but not always. If you’re interested in learning more about adult foster care, it’s worth looking into what regulations apply specifically in your state.

Who Adult Foster Care Is For

While there’s some variety in what adult foster care looks like in different areas and in different homes, in general, it falls somewhere between the experience of aging in place and assisted living.

For a lot of seniors that want to age in place, but reach a point where they can’t safely do so without help, adult foster care is an appealing option.

It feels more like your own home than a facility (although a shared home), so you can keep some of the privacy you value while still having a caregiver on hand to help with ADLs you struggle with like getting dressed or making meals. It also tends to cost less than assisted living, although the particulars of cost differ a lot based on where you live and the particular home you consider.

Where to Find Adult Foster Care

While there are currently around 19,000 adult foster care homes in the country, how common they are varies greatly in different parts of the nation. You’ll simply have to start doing some research to see what’s available in your state specifically. Some states have directories of available adult foster care homes, like Michigan and Minnesota, while other states have very few adult foster care options available at all.

If you have trouble finding anything in your search for adult foster care, try terms like:

All are terms sometimes used to describe the same thing as adult foster care or a similar setup.

Ways to Pay for Adult Foster Care

Depending on your personal financial situation and the state you live in, you may have to pay the full cost of adult foster care. In some states though, you can get help with the costs. Medicaid will typically cover some part of the cost if you qualify, or you may be able to tap into other state-level programs like Consumer Directed waivers that you can put toward the senior care option of your choice. If you’re a veteran who qualifies for the Aid & Attendance Benefit, you can put that toward the cost of adult foster care as well.

Even if you don’t qualify for any form of help, adult foster care generally costs less than a lot of other senior care options so may still be cost effective for you.

While this option won’t be right for everyone (and isn’t widely available in all areas at this time), for some seniors adult foster care offers just the right compromise between moving into assisted living and staying at home. It’s worth having the option on your radar as you consider your senior care options.

Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based copywriter and lifelong student with an ongoing curiousity to learn and explore new things. She turns that interest to researching and exploring subjects helpful to seniors and their families for SeniorAdvisor.com.


  1. amazing article with great thought, keep sharing this type of good things.
    Thanks for sharing with us.
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  2. Wilbur McCarty January 12, 2018 Reply

    I am a Korean war veteran and live at home with my wife who is suffering with dementia. We live in our own home in Indiana but are looking at the possibility that we will eventually need assistance to continue. We would like to avoid assisted living or nursing home care as long as possible. Is there any care offered that would be in-home to assist with the care of my wife?

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