Thank you for your interest in foster care. The process of fostering can be an emotional and complex one, but it is also very rewarding. Below you will find some Frequently Asked Questions, stories, and videos. When you are ready, you can also find Licensing Contacts in your area or download a foster care information packet.
If you have questions or need additional information or support at any time along your journey of fostering, please don’t hesitate to get in touch; we are here to help you!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is foster care?
Foster care is 24-hour care provided by licensed foster parents for children who cannot live with their parents because they are unsafe, have special care or treatment needs, or other circumstances exist where parents or family are unable to care for them. Generally, placement in foster care is temporary and intended to give the child’s family time to make necessary changes so that the child can live safely in his or her home and community. Most children in foster care return home to their families. When children cannot return home, they find permanence through placement with relatives, adoption, or other means.
What is adoption?
Adoption is the legal and emotional acceptance of a child not born into your family. There are several different kinds of adoption, including: domestic, international, adoption from foster care (also called public adoption), independent adoption, stepparent adoption, and relative adoption. To learn more about adoption, please visit www.wiadopt.org.
Who are the kids in foster care?
The children in Wisconsin’s foster care system are between the ages of 0 and 18. However, most often the children in need of homes are not babies or toddlers; they are teenagers, sibling groups, or children with special needs such as mental health, behavioral, or emotional concerns. Some of them have been through some pretty tough experiences in their short lives and desperately need stability and attention.
Is it hard to become a foster parent?
No, but it will take a little time. First you need to contact a licensing agency (county, private, or tribal). The licensing staff will need to get to know you better through interviews and through assessing paperwork you fill out. You will also be required to attend training.
You will find a list of licensing contacts here on our website. You can also find out who to contact in your county by visiting https://dcf.wisconsin.gov/fostercare/become, or by calling us at 1-800-947-8074.
What kind of support is available for foster parents?
As a foster parent, you will receive monthly payments to help cover the costs of food, clothing, personal care expenses, and any kind of special assistance a foster child may need. There may be other supports or services that your licensing agency provides for foster parents, such as assistance with day care costs or respite services. Talk to the licensing worker about what’s available.
How do I know if I’m ready?
It’s not a decision you can – or should – make quickly or lightly. Take some time to assess your feelings. Also consider the responsibilities of a foster parent, as well as the goals of foster care.
Responsibilities of a foster parent include:
- Provide a nurturing environment, as well as limits.
- Have children participate in daily activities, as well as around the house.
- Have a routine family life.
- Provide day-to-day care and supervision of a child.
- Arrange and take the children to medical, dental, and, if needed, mental health appointments.
- Support a family interaction plan for the children and their birth parents.
- Communicate with the school and keep up on the child’s progress.
These are the basic responsibilities of a foster parent. There are more responsibilities you may take on as you “parent”/care for this child, as there would be with any parenting role. You may also wish to check out our tip sheet, Is Fostering a Good Fit for Us? Things to Consider.
Foster Family Stories
We have learned through the years that all families have their own special and unique stories. We have also learned the deep value that comes from sharing those stories with other families who are in similar situations or places in life. We hope the stories you’ll find on this page will motivate and inspire you.
- On the Road to Achieving Independence and Success: Ashley’s Story (PDF) (2012)
- Our Foster Care & Adoption Journey: Lessons Learned (PDF) (2011)
- A Glimpse into One Foster Family’s Home (PDF) (2011)
- Dreams Do Come True: An Unexpected Journey into Social Work (PDF) (2011)
- Mother for Another Mother (PDF) (2010)
- They Are in it Together (PDF) (2010)
- A Grandmother’s Gracious Love (PDF) (2010)
- A Voice from Within: Growing Up as a Birth Child in a Foster and Adoptive Home (PDF) (2009)
- Bridging Troubled Waters (PDF) (2009)
- A Cop with a Different Beat (PDF) (2009)
- A Home for Teen Boys (PDF) (2008)
- A Family Created in Many Ways: Parents and Four Children who Became Family through Adoption, Fostering, and Birth (PDF) (2008)
The Foster Care Alumni Post Card Project (Video)
As the alumni movement has grown and gained momentum, we have discovered that regardless of age, race, ethnicity, geography, education, occupation, or placement history, as alumni of the foster care system we have a great deal in common. Our shared experiences form the basis of a shared culture-the culture of foster care. We are exploring the culture of foster care through our community art project where people in and from foster care share their observations, insights, and lessons on postcards.
- Wayne & Peggy: Long-time foster parents talk about the way fostering changed their lives and the impact they’ve had on their foster and adopted children.
- Ethan & Erin: A young couple discuss what becoming foster parents has meant to them and their daughter.
- What it takes to be a foster parent
- What’s the financial impact of fostering?
- How will fostering affect my biological kids?
- What’s it like to work with birth families?
- Isn’t it hard when a child returns home?
- I’m not sure I could handle a teen . . .