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Wisconsin foster care agencies are desperate for new homes. Private foster agencies like Community Care Resources and county agencies across Wisconsin are heavily recruiting new homes. If you are considering becoming a foster parent in Wisconsin, we would love to speak with you. As a statewide Wisconsin foster agency, we license homes and place foster children throughout the entire state. In our efforts to recruit qualified foster parents, we talk to prospective foster parents nearly every day. We would like to share what we believe to be the top 5 reasons people want to become a foster parent.
The most common response given by women when asked why they want to become a foster parent is usually something like this: “I don’t know why I want to provide foster care, I just always have”. “I have wanted to be a foster parent since I can remember”. “I grew up in Wisconsin foster care and I always knew I wanted to give back someday". "I really can't explain it, I just feel like I am supposed to care for children. Though it may seem rather vague on the surface, the unexplainable desire to provide foster care is deep and real to hundreds of women (and men) in Wisconsin and thousands nationwide. Some say that God has been working in their heart for years, others share that they felt a shift from wanting to adopt a child to providing foster care for numerous children. For most, they simply just can't explain it. Often times there are signs through strangers in restaurants, families at church, social media posts, or acquaintances beginning the foster care process themselves. It seems to be everywhere and the feeling gets stronger as time goes on. Then one day, it happens, the phone is dialed or an email is sent to a foster agency to learn how to begin the process to be a foster parent.
Retirement offers many new opportunities that are not available while working full time. Volunteering, attending grandkids sporting events and activities, enjoying the outdoors or getting back into a favorite hobby are just some ways to fill the long days of retirement. For some, the days are easily filled but the evenings are much too quiet. For John and Karen, becoming foster parents with Community Care Resources started by providing respite care. Giving other foster parents a much-needed break for an evening or a weekend was a great way to see if becoming foster parents was a good choice for them. It wasn’t long before they became full-time foster parents and welcomed 9 and 11-year-old boys into their home. Unsure if they would have the energy or stamina to keep up with the boys, they discovered quickly that the enjoyment they received from helping the boys fueled their busy days and nights. They got the boys involved in sports and extracurricular activities, enjoyed family dinners together and spent their evenings helping the boys with homework. Although their adult children questioned their giving hearts and sacrifice of their retirement days, they quickly saw the numerous benefits that John and Karen were enjoying by providing foster care. To date, John and Karen have fostered dozens of boys and have been witness to what amazing things come from giving love and time to youth in foster care. They have changed the lives of so many young boys and are enjoying every minute of their retirement years.
There are over 7,600 kids in the Wisconsin Foster Care system. The number continues to rise every year. Counties such as Racine and Eau Claire are heavily campaigning for more foster parents as are private agencies like Community Care Resources. The majority of kids enter the system due to neglect and substance abuse. The two often go hand in hand. Community Care Resources receives approximately 35-40 referrals each month from counties across Wisconsin. 80% of the children are over age 5 and many are part of a sibling group. CCR matches children with a foster family that can address their significant trauma and provide support services. Sadly, we are able to place less than 20% of the kids in a treatment level home. Some will go with a relative and others will stay in a residential or group home that can better meet their needs. Only a few will be placed with a highly trained treatment foster family. The most staggering number is how many foster homes a child will be in during their time in foster care. A study performed by childtrends.org reports that nearly 60% of all kids will be placed in multiple foster homes. Over 20% will be in 4 or more homes.
Nearly all the children referred to Community Care Resources come from a county foster home. Treatment level care is recommended when a child’s needs require a treatment plan to address significant trauma. Data shows that over 20% of Wisconsin children are in treatment level care. The number of kids that would benefit from higher level care and therapeutic services is unknown but some professionals believe that as many as 45% of all kids in care would be well suited in a treatment level home. Foster parents are desperately needed in Wisconsin, especially for older kids and sibling groups. The trauma that accompanies youth in foster care is sad and alarming. With the right adult in their life, a stable family environment, and a proper treatment plan in place, kids can heal from their trauma and have a good chance at a productive, stable, happy adult life. Children endure significant trauma when exposed to unthinkable abuse and neglect and it has serious effects on them that are unimaginable. Being a treatment foster parent is not easy but it comes with numerous rewards. Kids deserve to feel safe, they want to trust adults and they crave to be loved and accepted. They did not choose their path but Wisconsin families can choose to help them. Kids ages 5-18 need loving homes with families willing to invest in them as they grow emotionally, socially, cognitively, and physically. Sometimes that means for 18-24 months. This gives them the opportunity to develop healthy attachments in order to be more successful adults. The Wisconsin foster care crisis is real. We need families with flexible schedules to step up, be the change and be one very important answer to the overwhelming problem. Will your family be one of them?
Most of us can probably admit that at one time or another we have hoped that someone else would “step up” and say yes to someone in need. We hope that someone else has the time and means to get involved and make a difference. Maybe we are feeling too busy or that we don’t have the right skill set to be helpful. We see heartbreaking stories and videos on the internet that stir our emotions. We see photos of abandoned dogs, videos of natural disaster victims and our local news talks about the growing number of homeless in our Wisconsin communities. We wish we could do something to help but don’t know where to begin. What are we really capable of doing? How can we get involved to truly make a difference? It can be difficult to decide what to give our time to, whom to help or what agency to donate our money to. If we are honest, we sometimes feel “Oh, that’s sad. I hope somebody does something.” We assume it can be someone other than us. But what if we said yes? What if we made the call? What if we helped just one hurting child? What if everyone that read this blog said yes? What a huge impact that would have on the most vulnerable kids in our state. Too many kids are without a safe, loving home. Too many siblings are separated because most of us hope that someone else will become a foster parent. If everyone takes this approach, then WHO will do something? These children are our children, our neighbors, and our future. We must believe that we are ALL called to do something for those less fortunate. For some that means being foster families, for others, it looks different. Our wish is that you will explore your heart, talk with your family and friends and decide to make a 2-year commitment to getting started. There are too many kids with no place to go, no family to call their own, no hope for a future. If we don't do it, who will?
Many people that reach out to us for foster care information are hesitant because they feel they won’t qualify to be a foster parent. Perhaps their home is small and kids would have to share rooms. Maybe they live simply on one income and don’t have a lot of extras. Some fear they will be denied because they rent their home or live in an apartment. While others feel they might be too old and unable to connect with the children. For those without kids of their own, they often fear a lack of experience will hold them back. Whatever is holding you back, PLEASE read our qualify to be a foster parent page and get the truth about what is required. Most people we talk to are very surprised how easy it is to meet the qualifications. The biggest hurdle for most families is the required flexibility needed. That can be difficult for two working parents or a single working person but it is crucial for foster kids in treatment level care. They need you home before and after school and on all breaks and snow days. Leaving foster children home alone is never an option so a support system of friends, family, church friends, etc. is critical to being a successful foster parent. What nearly all people who inquire about foster care DO have in common is a willingness to share their home and give love away to children in need. That is definitely enough to get started. Focus on what good you can provide and let your heart guide you down the path of giving of yourself. After all, that’s all kids really want from you. Your heart, your attention and your trust that will help build relationships that will last a lifetime. You do have a lot, you may just be looking in the wrong place for what you have.
To learn more visit our FAQ page or call us anytime at 800-799-0450