It costs at least $10 to take a date to the movies. A ski pass at Alta is $18. An oil change is about $16. A new compact disc costs in the neighborhood of $12. Boarding a dog at a local kennel costs from $4 to $10 a day.

The state Division of Family Services estimates it costs at least $12.29 per day to care for the state's foster children. Then why do foster parents receive only $6.40 per day to pay for housing children under the age of 12, and $7.26 for older children?Those who agree to take in children who need temporary homes are not making money on the proposition.

An attempt in the last Legislature to raise the daily rate for foster care to $11 and $15 died in committee.

Of course, that money alone doesn't ensure that wards of the state receive good care. Proper screening of potential foster parents as well as ongoing training programs are needed to care for the special needs of children who have been emotionally or physically abused.

Close supervision of foster children is also required to be sure that these children receive emotional stability despite the temporary nature of their housing.

But foster parents deserve to receive payment that is at least equal to the cost of the basic care that they are required to provide. No one should have to go into debt to take in needy children.

It's something lawmakers should remember the next time the Legislature meets.