Frequently Asked Questions
Foster care is home-like care provided by licensed foster parents for children who cannot live with their parents because they:
Placement in foster care is usually temporary and gives families time to make necessary changes so the child can safely live in his or her home and community. Most children in foster care return home to their families, which is called reunification. When children cannot return home, they find permanence through adoption, guardianship, or other means.
Children are placed in foster care for various reasons. Some examples include:
Yes. Placement in foster care is usually temporary and gives families time to make necessary changes so the child can safely live in his or her home and community. When children cannot return home, they find permanence through adoption, guardianship, or other means.
When it is not safe for a child to return home, efforts may be made to find an adoptive family that best meets the needs of the child. These adoptive homes are sometimes referred to as foster home conversions. The Special Needs Adoption Program works to match children withan adoptive family.
Counties, tribes and private agencies license foster parents in Wisconsin.
The foster care coordinator will give you more information about becoming a foster parent with their agency, such as:
During the application process, you will fill out paperwork and meet with social workers who will license your home.
To become a foster parent, you must be 21 years of age or older. There is no other age requirement and many “empty nesters” find foster parenting to be a rewarding experience.
No, you do not have to be married. Foster parents can be married, single, and in unmarried relationships.
There is no minimum income requirement for foster parents, as long as they can take care of family expenses outside of the reimbursement received for fostering.
No, many foster parents work outside of the home. Foster parents should discuss with their licensing agency what options may be available to assist with child care costs.
No, many foster parents have not parented before. They are, however, responsible people who have made a commitment to children and demonstrate an ability to parent or learn to parent.
To become a foster parent, you must meet all of the following:
Complete foster home licensing requirements are listed in Wisconsin Administrative Code Chapter DCF 56
Foster care coordinators work most closely with the foster homes licensed by their agency. Foster care coordinators will make sure foster families follow the foster care rules and policies.
Indian tribes are sovereign nations, which means they can create their own laws and regulations for certain programs or services. While some tribes use state licensing requirements, others have their own standards and policies. Foster parents licensed by or working with a tribe should contact the tribal agency to learn about the tribe’s policies.
Children need stability and agency staff offer foster parents plenty of support to maintain an even keel. For starters, before foster parents even take placement of their first foster child, the agency staff works with them to develop a profile of the type of child best suited to the experience and capabilities of the foster family. There is also respite care for those times that foster parents need a break. The foster care coordinator will also continue to provide support to foster parents after they become licensed.
All licensed foster parents receive a foster care payment to reimburse for the care of a foster child, called the Uniform Foster Care Rate. The foster care licensing agency will provide foster parents with a copy of the brochure explaining the Uniform Foster Care Rate, reimbursement amounts, clothing allowances, and how to appeal the foster care rate.
No, foster parents do not pay any of a child’s medical expenses, other than over-the-counter medicines and supplies. Each child in foster care has BadgerCare Plus covering their medical, dental, and mental health care needs. Foster parents should talk with their foster care coordinator about medical costs a foster child may have.
A statewide fund provides some protection when the foster parent’s own insurance policies do not. This is called the Foster Homes Liability Insurance Program. The state fund covers some property damage and personal injury caused by the foster child. The extent of coverage and exclusions is subject to change. The agency that licensed the foster home can give foster parents up-to-date information, including the Foster Homes Liability Insurance Program brochure.
Foster parents qualify for child care assistance as long as the foster parent is in an activity that qualifies under the Wisconsin Shares Program, including employment or education courses. Foster parents should contact their foster care coordinator or the child’s caseworker to find out specific information about how to enroll in the Wisconsin Shares Program. Since the Wisconsin Shares Program has established reimbursement rates, it is important for foster parents to fully understand any co-pay requirements that may apply to a specific child care provider.
Training is necessary to prepare foster parents and help them to continue to develop as a foster parent. Being a successful foster parent means continuing to learn through:
Each foster parent is required to complete training in relation to their Level of Care certification. Training requirements fall into three categories:
There are many resources available to foster parents throughout Wisconsin. Some of those resources are listed below.
The Foster Care and Adoption Resource Center (FCARC)
FCARC offers a variety of resources:
Staff at the FCARC can also be reached by telephone at 1-800-762-8063.
Wisconsin Foster and Adoptive Parent Association (WFAPA)
WFAPA is a peer and volunteer-based organization that supports and advocates for foster and adoptive parents by:
National Foster Parent Association
The National Foster Parent Association is a non-profit, volunteer organization. Established, in 1972, as a result of the concerns of several independent groups who felt the country needed a national organization to meet the needs of foster families in the United States. The National Foster Parent Association aims to support foster parents in achieving safety, permanence, and well-being for the children and youth in their care.
International Foster Care Organization (IFCO)
IFCO is a global, non-profit networking organization serving to promote and support family-based foster care across the world. IFCO the only international network of foster parents.
Wisconsin Child Welfare Professional Development System (WCWPDS)
WCWPDS allows foster parents to browse and register for trainings, conferences, and online training modules. It also stores transcript information about the trainings foster parents have completed.
UW-Milwaukee Child Welfare Partnership (MCWP)
MCWP is a professional development program that is part of the Wisconsin Child Welfare Professional Development System (WCWPDS). MCWP provides a full array of training and professional development services to foster, adoptive, and relative families throughout Wisconsin.
State of Wisconsin Foster Parent Handbook
The Handbook is intended to give basic information about foster care in Wisconsin to newly-licensed foster parents and to serve as a refresher for experienced foster parents. In it, foster parents will find the following:
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