Content starts here

What Is Adult Foster Care?

What Is Adult Foster Care.png


Older adults might benefit from adult foster care. This type of care is provided in a home environment for elderly people. Adult foster care may also be provided to people who have developmental or intellectual disabilities that impact their ability to live on their own. Today, however, an increasing number of adult foster care homes cater to elderly adults. Elder Care Direction can talk to your family about adult foster care and other types of care that might be appropriate for your loved one.


What is adult foster care?

Adult foster care involves assistance with daily activities, including the following:

  • Meal prep and help with eating
  • Laundry and cleaning tasks
  • Dressing
  • Personal grooming and bathing
  • Climbing stairs and walking
  • Errands and shopping
  • Transportation to appointments
  • Medication management

This type of care might also be called small-group assisted living, adult family care, or domiciliary care. Adult foster care is typically provided in group homes that have fewer than six residents. By contrast, assisted living homes offer care to larger populations.


How does adult foster care work?

The care that is provided in adult foster care will vary depending on the needs of the individual residents. Some residents may require round-the-clock care while others may need help with specific tasks. The residents will normally have their own rooms in a home or small building and can access assistance when they need it.


The staff in adult foster care homes will be available, but they might be sleeping overnight. This is because the residents of adult foster care homes typically have less complex needs than the residents of assisted living or nursing homes.


Most states require that people sign resident agreements before they can move into adult foster care homes. These agreements cover the responsibilities and rights of everyone involved, the costs, and how the agreements’ provisions can be terminated. The agreements will also detail what is included in the fees and what is available for additional costs.


Receiving adult foster care at home

In some states, family members are able to provide foster care services to their loved ones while being paid by the government. In states that allow it, this type of care is different because the primary caregiver will be a family member or close friend instead of a professional. These types of programs have numerous rules, making it important to talk to someone who is knowledgable to make certain that all of the regulations are being followed.


Cost of adult foster care

The cost of adult foster care will depend on where you live and the level of care that your loved one needs. It is usually less expensive than assisted living and nursing home care. Depending on where you live, you can expect to pay from $1,500 to $3,500 per month for adult foster care.

In some states, Medicare or Medicaid might help to pay for some of the costs. You will need to talk to a caseworker or geriatric specialist who has knowledge of the options that are available in your state.


What are the benefits of adult foster care?

Adult foster care offers several benefits. It allows your loved one to have as much independence as he or she can while not sacrificing his or her safety and quality of care. Since these homes are smaller than assisted living facilities, they also offer a more personal level of care. This can be helpful for people who have health conditions that evolve such as Alzheimer’s disease or diabetes. Adult foster care also is less expensive than assisted living and nursing home care. It might also be less expensive than in-home care.


Do you think that your loved one needs adult foster care?

If your loved one needs more help with daily tasks than he or she can receive at home, you might want to consider adult foster care. It is a good choice for older adults who need help but who do not need the type of intensive care that may be provided in assisted living homes or nursing homes.


If your loved one needs help with activities such as preparing meals, cleaning, and running errands but does not need medical care, adult foster care can offer a solution that can help your loved one to be independent while also getting help with his or her daily activities. Talking to your loved one early can help you to make certain that you are respecting his or her wishes.

AARP Expert

@JohnP336690 Thank you for sharing this information! 


Keep in mind that "adult foster care" may have different names in various states. For example, it may also be called:

  • Community Residential Setting (CRS)
  • Adult Group Home
  • Board and Care Home
  • Group Facility
  • Residential Treatment Facility
  • Residential Care Facility
  • Residential Care Home
  • Assisted Living home
  • Congregate care
  • Supported Living
  • Cottage Home
  • Personal Care Home
  • Adult Family Home

Take care,

Amy Goyer, AARP Family & Caregiving Expert

Author, Juggling Life, Work and Caregiving and

Color Your Way Content When Caring for Loved Ones

Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Need to Know

Flash Sale! Join or renew for $9 per year with a 5-year membership.
Join or renew
and get a FREE gift!

AARP Membership Flash Sale

More From AARP