According to Community Care Resources (CCR) in Wisconsin, many more families are needed for foster children. Only ten percent of the children referred to CCR can be placed into families, so there’s a push to get more families educated about becoming foster parents.
Foster parenting doesn’t necessarily have to go through state agencies like the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families. There are private agencies like CCR who are regulated by the state. County agencies in Wisconsin even refer foster children to private agencies all the time.
If you’re single, married, or in a same sex marriage, you can be eligible to be a foster parent to a child. Becoming licensed to become a foster parent can take about 3-4 months. There are some requirements for becoming a foster parent. Those requirements include being 25 years old or older, having a sufficient income to handle caring for the child, having a bed and space available for the child, and your work schedule. There is also, of course, a background check that is performed on prospective foster parents.
People looking to adopt children can often do so by first becoming foster parents. The main goal with foster care is to return the child to the biological parents but if parental rights are terminated, then that child is available for adoption. Many children have been adopted by their foster parents, so it’s happening all the time.
Most children are in a foster care program at CCR for 2 years on average and foster parents are paid. The pay rate varies and there’s no typical amount that can be cited. It depends on the age of the child, the level of care needed, and required services. Foster parents are not required to pay for medical expenses for the child or even prescription drugs. That is taken care of.
While you foster a child, there will be times when you’ll need to participate in events where the child sees their parents for visits. It’s important that foster parents are a part of that process. Even after the child returns to their home, it’s typical that the foster parents keep in touch with the child since they have become a part of that child’s life.
Types of Foster Care
There’s a higher level of foster care called treatment level foster care. This kind of care is for children that need additional care, supervision, and support. These children have experienced a high level of trauma that has severely impacted their development. Community Care Resources specializes in treatment level foster care and needs parents trained for this level.
In addition, respite foster care parents are needed. With respite, you’d be available to take a child for an afternoon in order to give foster parents a break. This is a great way to see if foster parenting is for you and these kinds of parents are needed as well.
And there’s also specialized group care where several foster children live together in a home where more intense treatment level care is needed. These children have severe emotional and behavioral issues that require a high level of care. Some families choose to pursue this level of care.
A tool called Adolescent Needs & Strengths (CANS) is used in Wisconsin to determine which level of care a child needs. CCR takes children at levels 2-4.
Level 2 is mild to moderate care
Level 3 is moderate care with more supervision
Level 4 is specialized treatment care
Parents must be certified at these levels to accept children at these levels. To go from level 2 to level 3, an additional 36 hours of training is required, for example.
The Process to Become a Foster Parent
If you meet the basic requirements (stated earlier), then the next step is to contact an agency like CCR. They will help you decide if you should pursue applying to become a foster parent or not. If accepted, you’ll then go through a series of training and home visits in order to be licensed. Things like checking references, background checks, health checks, home inspections, proof of insurance, fingerprinting, and other checks are performed. This is done to ensure the safety and well-being of the child.
The training is 6 hours of online training and 30 hours in the classroom, which is spread over 4 days. It’s typical to be licensed within 3-4 months. At that time, you’ll be considered to be matched up with a child or children who need foster care.
There are many rewards to becoming a foster parent. You’ll create relationships that can last a lifetime as you positively impact the life of a child. You’ll also earn an additional income. You get life-impacting training as well. You’ll also be helping your community by providing support that is needed in your area. By becoming a foster parent, you’ll be keeping kids out of group homes and you’ll provide them personal support that they really need.
If you live in Wisconsin and are interested in becoming a foster parent, contact CCR Wisconsin Foster Care or call them at 800-799-0450.