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Janine, Juneau County

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Can foster children share a bedroom?

If you are thinking about becoming a foster parent in Wisconsin and live in a home or apartment where bedroom space is limited, you may be wondering if kids in foster care can share bedrooms. The quick answer is yes. But wait, there are many considerations and rules in place to protect children and keep everyone safe. If you plan to have kids sharing bedrooms when you foster, here are some things you must know.

Sharing a bedroom with a foster child may or may not be in everyone's best interest.

If your own kids are accustom to having their own space, it may be a difficult adjustment sharing with a foster child. On the other hand, they may be excited at the prospect of sharing with a "sister" or "brother". We have seen thousands of kids share rooms over the last 30 years and most of the time things work out well. Depending on personalities, behaviors, age, and how kids utilize their bedroom space, the decision, of course, is yours.

If your children are old enough to express how they feel and can have honest dialog with you about the idea of sharing their bedroom, that is terrific. Encourage them to tell you how they feel about the possibility. They might have some creative ideas on how to arrange the room, what types of beds will work best, and storage solutions. No matter what, include your kids in the decision, planning, and preparation.

A good night's sleep is important for children, no matter their age. Be sure that you are setting up your kids with a relaxing atmosphere where they can chill out or sleep sound through the night.

All kids utilize their bedroom space a little differently depending on their age. Some spend hours on their bed reading (yeah) or staring at their phone (ugh). Others may do their homework in their bedroom or play quietly on the bedroom floor. For many kids, the bedroom is just for dressing and sleeping. Whatever the situation, plan accordingly so that all kids are comfortable and you set everyone up for success.

Wisconsin foster parents get creative when setting up bedrooms.

If you are creative or a DIY type then you might be able to create a fun, yet functional bedroom for all the kids involved. The ideas are out there, think HGTV and Pintrest. We have seen some great ideas over the years with our foster parents. If you have questions about what is allowed, our staff can answer all of your questions. Usually, if it is safe, it will be okay.

No matter how you consider setting up a room for sharing, here are some Wisconsin requirements to keep in mind.

  • Any bedroom occupied by a foster child must have a door, and a window that allows natural light to enter, and adequate ventilation.
  • A bedroom must have 40 square feet per child sleeping in the room.
  • A sleeping room that someone must pass through to get to another part of the home may not be used as a bedroom for a foster child.
  • Foster kids may not sleep in a room to which access can be gained only through another occupied sleeping room.

That's not all, there are more requirements and things to consider.

The age of a foster child will most often determine if bedrooms can be shared.

Now, we get into some of the finer details regarding beds, ages, and usage of space. When considering sharing rooms, there are different rules for related children and those that are unrelated.

When thinking about the bedroom space in your home, remember that everyone must have a comfortable bed in which to sleep and all kids over age 12 months must have their own bed in a bedroom. Age matters and it important to understand so you will be prepared to welcome kids.

  1. Each foster child must be provided with a separate bed, except 2 related children of the same sex over the age of one and under the age of 12 may share a double or larger bed.
  2. No foster child 6 years of age or older may regularly share a bedroom with another child of the opposite sex.
  3. Foster children under age 4 many not sleep on the top bed of a bunk bed.
  4. No foster child under age 7 may sleep in a finished basement bedroom.
  5. Foster parents shall sleep within call of foster children during the night. Exceptions are often made for children 16 years and older.

Hopefully, you are still with us and keeping up with the "rules". We realize there are many but each one is in place for the well being of foster children. Now that you know bedroom locations, dimensions, ages of kids allowed to share... Let's get back to the actual bedroom space.

Bedrooms used for foster children must meet specific space requirements that allow for safe movement.

  • There must be at least 2' of walking space around each bed. Think nightstand between the beds and room for walking on the other side.
  • If you will utilize bunk beds, which many foster parents do, their must be a 3' clearance to the ceiling from the top bunk and the top bunk must have a safety rail if the child is under 8 years old.
  • Two sets of bunks in one room will require 5' between sets.
  • Each child is required to have ample storage space for their clothing and belongings. Dresser or closet is fine. Both are not necessary.
  • There may be two sets of bunks in one room, not more than 4 children may share one bedroom.

Yes, kids can share bedrooms! Keep in mind the rules and requirements mentioned here and you will be just fine creating a comfortable space for your foster children.

Although we did not get into details of bathroom space, there aren't that many, you will be thrilled to know that you only need ONE bathroom for up to 8 people in your household. Try to imagine that!

Ready to become a foster parent? We can't wait to speak with you!

 

 

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