Claiming a Foster Child on Taxes

The law is clear that if a county child welfare agency has a foster child's Social Security Number (SSN), they must share it with caregivers. However, there is no law that requires a county to have the SSN or to acquire it. If the county has a foster child’s SSN and refuses to provide it to the child's caregivers, then they are in violation of the Welfare and Institutions Code Section 16503.5 and are unlawfully denying the caregiver the right to benefit from the Federal Tax Credit.

To find out whether or not the county has your foster child's SSN on file, send a letter by certified mail to the director of your child welfare agency. Include the child's name and case file number. Cite and attach a copy of WIC section 16503.5 and state your right as a caregiver to benefit from the Federal Tax Credit.

If you are aware that the county does, in fact, have the child's SSN on file, and the county continues to refuse your request, send a letter by certified mail to the director of your child welfare agency. Include the child's name and case file number. Cite and attach WIC section 16503.5 and request that the county provide you with the SNN within 7 days. If you do not receive the SSN within 7 days, please call Advokids at 415.924.0587.

Another option would be to locate your nearest Social Security Administration branch office and walk in to request the child’s SSN. Explain you were the child’s foster parent and you need the SSN in order to file your tax return. You should not be asked about (nor should you volunteer) any information about the child’s reason for being in care or any information about the child’s social worker or court case.

You will be asked to show some or all of the following: your identification (driver’s license or state-issued ID or passport), your foster placement agreement/relative caregiver placement agreement, your adoptive placement agreement (if any), or your court order of adoption (if the adoption has been finalized). You will be asked for a copy of the child’s birth certificate. If you do not have a birth certificate, other forms of identification will sometimes be accepted, such as the child’s health insurance card (Medicaid, MediCal). Commonly, the SSA employee will give you the child’s SSN on the spot if it can be found with a quick check of computer records.

Please save and document any and all responses you receive. This information may be forwarded to Advokids at  ssnadvocate@advokids.org.

SSN for Los Angeles County

Los Angeles county is no longer requiring court orders before they share a child’s Social Security Number (SSN) with a caregiver. If you are a caregiver for a foster child in Los Angeles County, you may send a request for a child’s SSN to SSNInquiries@dcfs.lacounty.gov. LADCFS will provide the child’s SSN upon request, if they have it. Please save and document any and all responses you receive, and forward them to us at ssnadvocate@advokids.org.