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, independent 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.