If you are considering providing foster care in Wisconsin you will want to understand how foster parent payments are calculated in Wisconsin and how the monthly payment is going to impact your household budget while caring for foster children. It can be a difficult question to ask because nobody wants to be perceived as wanting to become a foster parent for the money. Prospective foster parents need to learn all areas of what is involved in caring for children and the financials are just one part of it all.
At Community Care Resources we are proud that not one foster family licensed with us is providing foster care for financial gain. How can we be so confident? How do we really know that our families don't get involved in foster care to earn a living? Well, because we know that the couples and single foster parents we have all over the state of Wisconsin are highly trained, meet strict foster parent qualifications and are part of a larger family with enormous hearts. Each of our foster parents spends 3-4 months working to get a foster care license. The process allows staff to spend quality time on each step of the process to ensure that prospective foster parents are a good match with the mission and philosophy of CCR. Our foster parents come aboard to provide foster care for siblings, school-age kids, teens, and little ones. They desire to give a child love, consistency and offer a stable home environment in which the child can heal from their trauma. Providing treatment foster care is not an "easy income" rather a beautiful way to truly change the lives of children.
Should foster parents be paid employees of a foster agency?
Some people believe foster parents should be salaried employees of the state of Wisconsin. Many treatment levels foster parents view themselves as professional caregivers. Some believe that more people would become foster parents if they were fairly compensated for what is always a 24/7 job. Others are happy that the monthly expenses incurred for caring for a child are covered at all. The subject of foster care payments is very complicated and filled with emotion. Payment options have been debated and argued for years by policymakers in Wisconsin and at the federal level. For now, let us explain what we do know about foster parent compensation.
Foster parents receive a payment called a stipend. There are three parts to establishing a stipend.
The Basic Maintenance Rate is intended to cover the basic needs of a child. It is a non-taxable reimbursement given to foster parents to pay for the cost of caring for a foster child. It is not considered income. Costs associated with caring for a foster child such as food, clothing, basic transportation, and personal care are reimbursed by the state of Wisconsin to a foster parent. The Wisconsin Uniform Foster Care Rate is set by the State Legislature and corresponds with the age of a child. As of January 2019, the rates for level 2 foster care and higher are between $404 and $524.
The Supplemental Rate is an additional payment for foster children who have a special need such as emotional, behavioral or medical needs. All children placed in treatment level care at Community Care Resources are evaluated within the first 30 days after placement to determine the amount of the supplemental rate. An assessment tool known as CANS, Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths is a multi-purpose tool used by the referring county and the placing agency. The tool assesses a child’s needs and strengths in areas such as trauma, school, mental health, relationships, and risk behaviors. Children are scored on a level of severity. Brian Sullivan is the Referral Coordinator at Community Care Resources. For over 20 years, Brian has collaborated with counties across Wisconsin to place treatment level children in our licensed foster homes as well as establishing agreements regarding the supplemental rates for children in our care. Measures are in place to ensure there is an opportunity for both the foster parent and caseworker to participate in the scoring. Our goal is to score fairly and accurately with full transparency utilizing a team approach collaboratively with the referring county. A CANS assessment is performed every 6 months or as determined to be necessary by the case manager/placing agency.
CCR works to establish consensus with each county regarding foster parent stipends.
Prior to placement, we provide foster parents with as much information as we have about a child’s needs and levels of trauma. Each child's history is given to CCR so placement in out of home care can be considered. An estimated stipend amount is provided to the foster parent based on other children in care and previous placements with similar needs. Watch the video to hear what Rita has to say about being a foster parent with Community Care Resources.
The Exceptional Rate supports the care of a foster child who is at risk of placement in higher level out-of-home care. Perhaps a child requires hands-on care, medical care, daily self-care or has dietary restrictions. Developmental delays and severe behavior problems are considered for an exceptional rate. Generally, care considered above and beyond what is normally needed falls into the category of the exceptional rate. Often times a child who requires an extraordinary amount of supervision or has mental health requiring line of site supervision will qualify for an exceptional rate. In addition to the above-mentioned care that may be required, the state of Wisconsin has a policy in place that awards foster families for keeping sibling groups together. A large percentage of Community Care Resources foster families care for sibling groups and the majority of families care for more than one child at a time.
How much are foster parents paid in Wisconsin?
The actual stipend amount is different for every child in foster care but foster parents can expect the Basic Rate plus additional monies to offset the costs of providing treatment foster care to kids. While some foster parents say it covers all costs with money remaining each month, others express that it could never be enough based on the required care provided. Unfortunately, there is not a stipend amount that can be written here that would satisfy the question of how much do foster parents receive. A stipend may be $650, it may be $950 or something in between or something higher or something lower. As frustrating as that can be, all CCR foster parents are given an estimated stipend amount by the Referral Coordinator prior to placement. What we know for sure is that no monthly payment for the combined Basic Maintenance, Supplemental, and Exceptional Rates may exceed $2,000 in the state of Wisconsin.
Click here for more details about foster care payments in Wisconsin
Ready to begin the process to become a foster parent for kids with significant trauma or sibling groups? We would love to speak with you and give you all the details and answers you're looking for.
Call us anytime 800-799-0450