Wisconsin foster care agencies are desperate for new homes. Social media platforms, news headlines, and blogs like this one are encouraging everyone to consider becoming a foster parent. Over 7,000 kids are in Wisconsin foster care and roughly 10% of them are in treatment level foster homes. The shortage of available homes is at a record high across the country and the numbers continue to rise, especially for treatment foster homes. The majority of people meet the requirements but few pursue getting a license. If you are married, single, LGBT, or in a committed relationship you most likely qualify and have many wonderful things to offer kids in foster care. Qualifying for treatment level care is determined by the population you wish to foster and if you can provide the necessary care required to meet the higher needs of the children.
Providing treatment foster care as a single parent is possible
Over the last decade, more and more children entering foster care have experienced some sort of significant trauma. Kids as young as three years old are being placed in treatment level foster homes due to significant trauma and the challenging behaviors that come with it. Sibling groups and kids over age 10 are being placed in treatment level care are at alarming rates. Their trauma may present behaviors and emotions that can be difficult for foster parents and their families to manage. Living with a traumatized child is challenging and is not recommended for anyone lacking a dependable support system. With a team approach, therapy services and nurturing, consistent environment kids can heal. Here is where trauma comes from?
- Domestic Violence
- Physical Abuse
- Severe Neglect
- Sexual Abuse
- Drug and Alcohol Abuse
- Early Childhood Trauma
- Community Violence
- Traumatic Grief
- Medical Trauma
The population you wish to care for will come with specific requirements and limitations. It can be very difficult to care for children with significant trauma without a support system in place. CCR requires ALL foster parents to have a backup plan, a designated person who will jump in and help in a split second when needed. As no two kids are alike, trauma is different for every child. All foster parents must have a flexible work schedule with the ability to adjust in case of an unplanned situation. There may be times when leaving work early or arriving late is necessary. In addition, having some availability for appointments and in-home weekly visits between the hours of 9-5 is required of all foster parents.
"I remember feeling really overwhelmed with schedules and running. Calm personalities and flexible schedules are definitely needed, and also a strong support network."
Many kids in treatment foster care are part of a sibling group. Accepting a sibling group is often best suited for a couple with a stay-at-home parent or a single, at-home parent. Older teens will require more supervision and boundaries and more driving to and from appointments and extracurricular activities. No matter the kids you welcome into your home, one thing is for sure; you will need a dedicated support system in place. The majority of our foster parents are married but we do have single, working foster parents who do amazing work with their kiddos. Qualifying depends on many things and all agencies are a bit different. Read more
There are many things to consider and decisions to be made before committing to becoming a foster parent. Parenting children in treatment level care with a history of trauma is hard work and very different than raising your own children. Although we have many wonderful, single foster parents licensed with us, they are not doing it alone! Here is what is required:
- Resident of Wisconsin
- 25 years or older (CCR will consider 21+ if a spouse is 25 or over)
- If single, a designated backup/support person is required
- If working, first shift preferred, with flexibility
- Sufficient income for the needs of your current family
- Stable, healthy relationships, people you can count on
- Bed and adequate space and storage for personal belongings
- Valid drivers license and auto insurance
- Willing and able to work with the children’s biological family
- Willing to participate in the child’s treatment plan
- Background check including the release of convictions, restraining orders, domestic violence and any records held by the Department of Human Services.
"I am a single foster parent, it’s a lot harder than raising my biological kids solo"
The most difficult qualifier for singles wishing to be foster parents
The overwhelming majority of foster parents work outside the home. So, how can the requirements be met to be available at all times for the children? It's difficult and it probably isn't a reasonable qualifier based on today's working families. Unfortunately, having a parent or adult available at all times is non-negotiable in qualifying at the treatment level. It is crucial to providing care for treatment level kids. However, read carefully, it does not say you must be home all day or that singles do not qualify if they work. It says; a parent or adult AVAILABLE at all times. This is where a dependable, designated support system comes in. It is a topic we spend much time discussing with prospective foster parents.
- Leaving foster kids home alone is not allowed.
- Who will you depend on to back you up?
- Who will step up at a moments notice when you cannot be present?
- Keep in mind summers, Christmas vacation, spring breaks, and truancy.
- Not all treatment level kids are appropriate for day care.
- After school care is an option for some but not for others.
- What adult will be present in the home when the school bus arrives?
We ask these questions and bring these points to your attention not to frustrate you or discourage you but because caring for kids with significant trauma requires very specific plans to be in place to meet the needs of the child.
Yes, you can be a single foster parent.
Most importantly you can be successful like many single parents licensed with us. You just need a plan in place to care for the kids and make sure that they are safe and their higher level needs are being met.
Where do you go from here? We hope you will explore our website and learn more about treatment level foster care and what it looks like for foster parents and the kids. Treatment level care is not for everyone and not everyone can be a treatment foster parent. Those that care for kids with significant trauma are trained and given the necessary tools and support to help kids in their care heal. Now, please tell everyone that you CAN be a single foster parent, with a plan in place and a solid support system.
Call us today 800-799-0450