There are single foster parents across Wisconsin helping kids heal from traumatic backgrounds. Single men and women are doing fantastic work with kids in their care. They have generous hearts and offer youth a safe, stable home environment. One commonality, they all met the most critical CCR requirement to become a foster parent. You may offer foster kids love, stability, structure, and much-needed hope. We believe that your heart is enormous, and your desire to help is strong. However, there is one unavoidable challenge for many single prospective foster parents.
Couples, singles, retired, LGBT foster parents, empty nesters... There are many types of foster parents caring for kids across Wisconsin. Each has unique qualities and gifts to share with children in their care. Each offers safety, stability, and a nurturing environment. A diverse pool of foster parents helps us place children in the best home possible to achieve successful outcomes.
There are times we need a foster home without other children living in the house so a specific child can flourish with individual attention. Often, we need a two-parent home to care for larger sibling groups or teens to share the responsibilities of parenting multiple foster children. Other times we need a foster home to understand a child in the LGBTQ community. There are many examples and scenarios to consider when placing kids in loving homes. Most importantly, our foster parents must offer a flexible schedule.
One of the most incredible rumors about being a foster parent with CCR is that we require a stay-at-home parent in the house. This is not true. We have many foster families with two working parents or a single working parent. Single foster parents do great work with kids from difficult places. Contrary to belief, CCR does not require an at-home parent, but we need a parent to be home when the kids are home.
In other words, when foster kids are not in school, they are best at home with a parent. CCR foster youth have a lot going on. They have suffered unimaginable loss, abuse, and neglect. It is in a foster child's best interest to be at home with a foster parent in a structured environment when they are not in school. So how do single foster parents do it if they are working? It can be difficult.
Requiring a parent at home when the kids are home certainly limits our pool of potential foster parents. In addition, we understand the frustrations felt when the prospective foster parent is told they don't qualify to foster with us based on schedules and flexibility. However, the children we place have higher needs, behaviors, and trauma histories that require more supervision, frequent appointments, and room for unplanned interruptions. We wish we could license everyone with a big heart and love to give away. Sadly, that isn't enough to help kids with significant trauma stabilize and heal.
Having a parent or adult available at all times is non-negotiable in qualifying to provide treatment level foster care with CCR. However, read carefully; we do not require a parent to be home all day, nor are single adults denied if they work. A parent or adult must be AVAILABLE at all times. This is where a dependable, designated support system comes in. We spend much time discussing it with prospective single foster parents.
"I am a single foster parent; it has been more challenging than raising my biological kids solo."
The population you wish to care for will come with specific requirements and limitations. It can be tough 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 to adjust in case of an unplanned situation. There may be times when leaving work early or arriving late is necessary. In addition, having availability for appointments and in-home weekly visits between 9-5 is required of all foster parents.
"I remember feeling overwhelmed with schedules and running around. I'm a teacher, so my schedule fits, but I have relied on friends and family many times over the years to pitch in when I could not be there for my kids during the workday."
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 reliable support system in place if you are single.
You simply need a flexible schedule and a support system. Period.
Where do you go from here? We hope you will explore our website and learn more about treatment-level foster care. Please share this blog and tell everyone that YES, YOU CAN be a single foster parent with a flexible schedule and a solid support system.