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Mark C. Janesville

I've fostered for multiple counties and can honestly say that there is nothing like having your own caseworker and loads of support we get with CCR.

In today's America, over 60% of households are dual income families. Almost 40% of U.S. workers are women. People are putting off retirement and working longer than ever before. With data like these, how can anyone become a foster parent in Wisconsin if not allowed to work outside the home? Here we will address the myths and misconceptions about working foster parents. Specifically, treatment foster parents caring for children who require higher levels of supervision, stability, and consistency not always found in outside childcare resources. More importantly, the kids we are talking about require a predictable environment in which to heal from significant trauma. The focus shouldn't be on if foster parents are allowed to work full-time, the focus needs to be on the flexibility and availability that foster parents can offer a child if they work full-time. Now the discussion goes in a different direction. If you hope to qualify to be a foster parent for kids in treatment level care you can certainly work but you must meet specific flexibility requirements.

Kids in treatment foster care require foster parents to be available and flexible. They need to be a priority.

Being a foster parent with CCR doesn't require being a stay-at-home mom or a stay-at-home dad. We certainly don't expect our foster parents to sit home all day while the kids are in school. We embrace our working foster parents. We know how hard they work to take care of their families. What we require is flexibility. CCR foster parents must be available to their foster children when needed and have the flexibility to adjust their schedules accordingly. If you foster school-age children, having flexibility before, during, and after school hours is paramount. Most of our kids require additional supervision and cannot be left home alone, no matter their age. It is why we require all of our foster parents to have a flexible schedule throughout the year and a have a dependable support system in place, people to back you up when you are unavailable. Having a family member, close friend, or neighbor supporting you on your foster care journey is very important to your success and the healing success of a child.

There will be occasional times when you aren't available, need help with transportation, or need an extra set of hands. Who will you depend on to fill in for you?

Most everyone has helped a family member or friend at one time or another with an unexpected situation with kids. Living in Wisconsin, snow days and cold days can create havoc for working parents. There is little notice given that your workday needs immediate adjusting. Will you skip work? Ask someone to fill in for the day? In the event of a school suspension, who will stay home for a week with your foster son or daughter? Think of all the possible scenarios because one or more of them will arise and you will need a plan in place. One of the greatest foster care support services CCR offers is weekly in-home visits with every foster family. The visits are typically 45-50 minutes per foster child. If you have a sibling set or sibling group in your home, who will be home for 2-3 hours once a week to meet with the Case Worker? There will be biological family visits, unexpected disruptions, schedule changes and school-related appointments that will also require your time during normal business hours.

Without a flexible work/home schedule, it will be very difficult to manage the demanding schedule and sometimes unpredictable life of a treatment foster parent.

Most non-foster youth can safely stay home alone, others can stay with family or hang out at a friend's house. What if your child suffers from the challenges of significant trauma? What if your 8-year-old child cannot stay with a neighbor because past trauma prevents him or her from trusting? What if your child's behaviors are too unpredictable for grandma or your best friend to manage? What if? These are the first two words of many questions we will ask if you work full-time and want to become a foster parent for treatment level kids. Flexibility is non-negotiable. We do not bend on this requirement. Get more foster care answers here.

It is important for us to ask you to think about the times you will be unavailable to your foster children. Often times, prospective foster parents don't think of the possible situations that may arise. It is our job to make sure you understand the requirements and the responsibilities that will be upon you as a foster parent. Expect that it will be much different than caring for your own children and different than what you have witnessed with nieces, nephews, and friends. It may seem like we are pounding you with questions about your flexibility, and quite frankly, we are, but we must discuss it with you at length before you fill out an application to foster.

There have been instances over the years where prospective foster parents were not honest about their day to day schedule, thinking they could handle it and make it work, only to have it be discovered halfway through the licensing process. That is a difficult discovery for all involved and in those instances, a license was not issued. Be honest with yourself and CCR about the flexibility and stability you can offer foster children.

The process exists for the benefit of foster children, not because we want to exclude or punish working parents

Before school and after school can be difficult for working foster parents if they keep a tight, demanding work schedule. We require a parent to be home during these important hours of a child's day. Consistency is key for our kids. That means having the same adult present the majority of the time. It is okay to have a friend or family member fill in or give you some occasional support. What we want to avoid is having too many adults in a child's life. Going to the neighbor's house on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday after school and having Grandma in the home 2-3 mornings a week to get the kids off to school may seem like a good idea but it generally creates more chaos and confusion for the kids. Although adults are providing supervision, It backfires because there are too many adults playing the role of parent.

Adjusting your work schedule may be something to consider. We can help you explore your options.

We welcome a conversation with you about your schedule. Many times, we have ideas and suggestions that might fit perfectly with your situation and allow you to create a schedule that will work with treatment foster kids in your family. Many families find that one spouse can cut back their hours to 25 or 30 hours a week without much effect on the family financially. Remember, foster parents receive a payment each month that is designed to cover the expenses of caring for a child. You are not expected to financially support foster children. Find more Wisconsin foster care questions and answers here

There are hundreds of jobs and professions that offer flexibility. Our foster parents work in school districts, hotels, hospitals, banks, own a small business, are retired, work different hours than their partner, and many have an employer that offers flexible hours and shifts conducive to fostering. You may have options you haven't thought of. We can help walk you through it, just ask us. Remember, we are trying to create stability in a trauma-filled life. The following times will require you, a spouse, or someone from your support system to be present:

  • Before & After School
  • Summer Vacation
  • Spring Break
  • Winter Break
  • Snow/Cold Days
  • School Holidays
  • Sick Days
  • Unforeseen Truancy
  • Doctor/Therapy Appointments
  • Weekly In-Home Visits with Caseworker
  • Transporting Kids to Biological Family Visits
  • Continued Education Training for Foster Parents

Can treatment foster kids attend daycare, go to summer camp or after school programs?

On a case by case basis, yes it may be possible. Is it ideal for their treatment and healing process? No, it is not. It all circles back to creating an environment of consistency and stability. Introducing too many adults, programs, and environments can work against foster kids and impede their healing and progress. Less is often more when it comes to utilizing outside resources. It is not that we don't like working parents. It does not mean that you are not capable of caring for treatment level kids because you work full-time. It means putting the kids first above everything else.

It is about the children and their ability to heal from significant abuse and/or neglect.

Please share this information with your friends and acquaintances. Help us clear up the myths about working foster parents, specifically treatment level foster parents. We would love to speak with you about becoming a foster parent with CCR. We will walk you through your personal situation with honesty and guidance. We want you to qualify. We want you to explore fostering. Click here for answers to the most frequently asked foster care questions. Let us help you decide. The support we provide begins on the first phone call. 

Call now: 800-799-0450

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