Waukesha County



Waukesha County Foster Care

Foster Care Information 

Contact Us 

Waukesha County Foster Care Team

Email: fostercare@waukeshacounty.gov

Call: (262)548-7373

Human Services Center

Address: 514 Riverview Avenue,
Waukesha WI, 53188  View Map
Phone: (262) 548-7212
Se Habla Español
Fax (262) 548-7379

For information outside of regular business hours please call IMPACT 2-1-1 by dialing: 211, or 262-547-3388, or toll free 1-866-211-3380.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

What is foster care?

Foster care is home-based care provided by licensed foster parents for children who cannot live with their parents because they:

  • are unsafe
  • have special care or treatment needs that their parents are unable to manage
  • other circumstances resulting in their parents or family being unable to care for them.

Placement in foster care is intended to be temporary and gives families time to make necessary changes so the child can safely live in his or her home and community. Many 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.

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How do children enter foster care? 

Children are placed in foster care for various reasons. Some examples include:

  • a child who has been neglected,
  • a child who has been abused,
  • a child whose parent is in jail or is hospitalized and has no one to care for them during their parent’s absence,
  • a child who has committed a delinquent act, or
  • a child who has significant medical or mental health needs.

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Can I adopt through foster care?

Yes. Placement in foster care is usually temporary and gives families time to make necessary changes so the child can safely live with his or her family of origin. 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. Often, this is the foster family that the child has been living with. These adoptive homes are sometimes referred to as foster home conversions. The Statewide Public Adoption Program works to match children with an adoptive family.

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How do I become a foster parent?

Counties, tribes and private agencies license foster parents in Wisconsin.

During the information session, staff will give you more information about becoming a foster parent with Waukesha County, such as:

  • licensing requirements, policies, and standards
  • what to expect as a foster parent
  • how to get started with an application

During the application process, you will fill out paperwork and meet a foster care coordinator who will work closely with you to license your home.

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What qualities make a great foster parent?

Desire - Foster parents should possess a natural liking for children and enjoy caring for them. Foster parents should have a desire to make a difference in a child's life.

Stability - One of the biggest needs foster children have is the need for stability. Foster parents should have a stable home and personal life. Foster parents should be mature adults, happy in their own lives, who can provide children with love, security, understanding and stability. They should have the ability to remain calm in times of crisis and have a lot of patience.

Acceptance - Foster children need to be accepted, regardless of their actions or behaviors. Many foster children have suffered crises in their own home and may be resentful, bad-tempered or angry. Foster parents need to have the ability to give children affection and caring without expecting an immediate return of love and appreciation.

Availability - Fostering requires a lot of time. Responsibilities include taking children to medical appointments, therapy appointments, transportation, as well as spending quality time with them.

Cooperation - Foster parents in Waukesha County are considered a part of a team. Their help is needed in developing plans concerning what is in the best interest of the child. Other members of the team include the biological parents, the social workers, other family members and at times, attorneys. During the first 6 - 12 months in care, the goal is to reunite children with their parents.

Family - An active commitment to fostering needs to come from all members of the family. The entire foster family needs to be willing to open their homes and their hearts to children. Foster children need to feel they are a part of the entire family.

Knowledge - Fostering requires a basic knowledge of child care skills, as well as familiarity of the stages of child development. These skills should help foster parents identify emotional, physical and behavioral indicators of abuse and neglect, as well as provide age appropriate discipline. There is no such thing as a perfect foster parent, instead a willingness to learn and continued growth is vital.

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How old do I have to be to become a foster parent?

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.

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Do I have to be married to become a foster parent?

No, you do not have to be married. Foster parents can be married, single, and in unmarried relationships.

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Is there an income requirement to become a foster parent?

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.

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Do I have to stay at home to become a foster parent?

No, many foster parents work outside of the home. Foster parents should discuss with foster care coordinator what options may be available to assist with child care costs.

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Do I have to have parented before to become a foster parent?

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.

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Are there requirements to become a foster parent? 

To become a foster parent, you must meet all of the following:

  • 21 years of age or older
  • Responsible adult
  • Criminal background check, law violations, and other background information requirements
  • Your home must meet all physical environment requirements

Complete foster home licensing requirements are listed in Wisconsin Administrative Code Chapter DCF 56

Foster care coordinators work most closely with the foster homes. Foster care coordinators will make sure foster families follow the foster care rules and policies.

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Are there different requirements to become a licensed foster parent by a tribe?

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.

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What support will I receive as a foster parent?

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 foster care coordinator 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. Waukesha County offers a mentor program, networking events, and host family activities.

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Will I be reimbursed for providing care to a foster child?

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.

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Do I have to provide medical insurance for foster children placed in my home?

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.

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Is there liability insurance for foster parents?

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.

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Is there childcare assistance available for foster parents?

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.

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Are there training requirements for foster parents? 

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:

  • classes and other training methods
  • reading books or magazines
  • talking with other foster parents
  • continually developing new skills

Each foster parent is required to complete training in relation to their Level of Care certification. Training requirements fall into three categories:

  • Pre-placement
  • Initial licensing
  • Ongoing

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Are there other resources available to foster parents? 

Yes, there are many resources, click here to see a list.

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For more information, you can attend a virtual Foster Care Information Session, or contact our foster care team at fostercare@waukeshacounty.gov.