One of the most common misunderstandings surrounding Wisconsin foster care is the difference between county foster agencies and private foster care agencies. The Wisconsin division of social services heads up the entire foster care system, overseeing county and private foster care agencies. Each agency follows requirements established by state and federal laws. While private agencies may have slightly different levels of requirements to be a foster parent, all agencies operate in a similar manner, while having some flexibility applying policies and requirements. Let's explore the differences.
CCR is a private child placement agency. We license foster parents and work with Wisconsin county foster agencies to place kids in loving homes where healing can begin. When a county is unable to locate an appropriate home for a child or provide specialized treatment care for a child, a private foster agency is contacted and a referral is made. The referring county reimburses a private foster care agency for the care of a child. The cost is dependent on the needs of the child and rates are determined by the state of Wisconsin.
There are many differences between Wisconsin private foster care agencies and county agencies, here are just a few that are important to foster parents:
- levels of need of the children in care
- training foster parents receive
- workloads of caseworkers and employee longevity
- amount of support foster parents receive while caring for children
County foster agencies rely on private foster care agencies to provide higher levels of care in a home environment.
When a child is removed from their home, will be moving from one foster home to another, is in need of higher-level foster care, or a home is required to keep siblings together, it is the responsibility of the county to locate an appropriate foster home. Avoiding group homes and residential treatment centers is a common goal between counties and privates. Most kids will make better progress if they remain in a private home with a stable family structure. Community Care Resources is a private agency specializing in treatment level foster care.
Each child referred to CCR is assessed to determine the amount of care required to meet their individual needs. Treatment level foster care at CCR means kids are level 2, 3 or 4. Basically, the higher the number, the higher the needs of the child. An individualized treatment plan is designed to address trauma and the effects of prolonged abuse and neglect. Foster parents and caseworkers work together to meet the goals of a child's plan. In addition, our sister company Community Care Programs has numerous therapy programs to address childhood trauma and mental illness.
There are county foster parents right now caring for kids who require treatment care and most are not getting the services and support they desperately need.
20% of the 7,000+ children in Wisconsin foster care are in treatment level care. A good question might be: How many children in basic, county foster care would be better served in a treatment level foster home? The answer might surprise all of us. Unfortunately, we can only speculate but a safe assumption might be to estimate that an additional 20% would benefit from treatment care. A foster home with a parent available at all times, access to therapeutic services, weekly interaction and support from a clinical case manager is needed to address trauma.
CCR foster parents are trained in trauma-informed care prior to getting a foster license and attend regular pieces of training to continue their education in caring for kids with significant trauma. When children are placed with a family, parents rely on the tools they learned in the initial training and feedback tells us that our trainers to a thorough job with the trauma content. 30 hours of classroom training are taught by our experienced staff. Training hours are just a part of the process to become a foster parent.
With foster homes in 35 Wisconsin counties, CCR has become the statewide agency counties rely on to provide treatment level care and support services for children of all ages and sibling groups.
Helping children heal from significant childhood trauma is no small task. It requires the dedication, support, and supervision of an experienced team. Community Care Resources focuses on trauma-informed care and critical supported services. Our foster parents are surrounded by an experienced staff of Master's level clinicians available 24/7 to provide support and resources. These men and women are loyal to their assigned foster families and visit with each of their families every week.
Weekly in-home visits are critical to the successes of both foster parent and child. The relationships formed with caseworkers are very special and foster parents depend on the expertise of their assigned caseworker and look to her for guidance and support. We are blessed to our employees family and rely on their many years of service. Our employees average 14 years of employment with CCR!
Community Care Resources began serving children and families 30 years ago and is now one of the largest private foster care agencies in Wisconsin. We are able to care for approximately 115 children at any given time because of the kindness and loving hearts of so many amazing foster families. Our families have been helping kids heal for 5, 10, 15 and even 27 years! Many of our families care for more than one child at a time and siblings groups are welcomed by the majority.
It is sad to think that so many children are not getting the services they need to address their significant trauma.
One of the most devastating, all too common occurrences in foster care is a disruption known as bouncing. Kids bounce from house to house because foster parents are unable to keep them long term or give a 30-day notice to have the children removed from their care. Most often, notice is given to an agency because a foster parent feels overwhelmed and unsupported. It is a sad day when a 30-day notice is given, for the foster parents and especially the foster child. It means a new house, more strange adults, a new school, loss of friends, and progress towards feeling wanted, safe, and loved are compromised. It also compounds the already existing significant trauma.
We are proud of our CCR foster parents. Giving up is a rarity at CCR. When foster parents are feeling overwhelmed, our supervisors step in to help the team with creative solutions. Foster parents are able and encouraged to express themselves during the weekly visits and get ahead of problems before they get too big. Case managers work one on one, hand in hand to help foster parents be as successful as possible.
Being a foster parent is very challenging and requires a team effort, it cannot be done alone. At Community Care Resources, an average placement can last from 18-30 months. Until permanency is achieved, our hope is that a child will remain in a single foster home and not endure further disruption from bouncing. CCR offers many support services that help foster parents succeed:
- Weekly in-home visits provide our foster parents valuable support and each is considered part of a professional team.
- Respite care is provided twice monthly to allow foster parents to take a break and recharge their batteries. In addition, an annual one week vacation is provided.
- Continuous training is offered to provide opportunities to gain knowledge and additional tools necessary to care for kids with trauma.
Private foster agencies in Wisconsin like CCR are doing great work. County agencies would be completely overwhelmed were it not for private agencies. Private foster care agencies are doing difficult work to help children heal from significant trauma. It truly takes a team to help children heal.
We work tirelessly every day and we look forward to 30 more years of helping children.