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Wisconsin foster parents receive a monthly payment to care for the basic needs of a foster child. How much is it? Is it enough? Foster care payments are a delicate topic and often misunderstood. Nobody wants to be perceived as wanting to become a foster parent for the money. In fact, 99% of prospective foster parents we talk with, NEVER ask about it.
CCR foster parents spend 4 months getting a foster care license. The process allows staff to spend quality time on each step to ensure prospective foster parents match the mission and philosophy of CCR. CCR foster parents come aboard to provide foster care for siblings, school-age kids, and teens. Their "job" is to give a child love, consistency, and a stable home environment to promote healing from trauma. Being a foster parent is one of the most difficult, challenging, yet rewarding roles to assume without monetary reward.
The answer depends on who you ask. Some people believe foster parents should be salaried employees of Wisconsin. Others believe the stipend system works best. Conversations about foster care & money often include the apparent risk of folks getting involved in foster care to make money.
Many foster parents caring for a higher level of need children 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. Conversely, others are happy monthly expenses incurred for caring for a child are covered at all.
Many folks are afraid to ask about payments out of fear of being judged or doing it for the money. Additionally, others are unaware there is a payment at all.
Payment options have been debated and argued for years by foster parents, social workers, and policymakers in Wisconsin and at the federal level. For purposes of this blog, let us explain what we do know about foster parent compensation.
There are 3 rates involved in Wisconsin foster care. Let's explore all three to better understand how each is calculated.
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 to a foster parent. The Wisconsin Uniform Foster Care Rate is set by the State Legislature and corresponds with a child's age. As of January 2021, rates for caring for non-relatives are as follows:
All children placed with CCR, no matter their level of care, are evaluated within the first 30 days after placement to determine the amount of the supplemental rate.
The Supplemental Rate is an additional payment for foster children who have additional needs such as emotional, behavioral, or medical needs. 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 trauma, school, mental health, relationships, and risk behaviors. Children are scored on their level of need. CCR licenses levels 2, 3, and 4.
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 with the referring county. A CANS assessment is performed every 6 months or as determined to be necessary by the case manager/placing agency.
Care considered above and beyond what is typically needed falls into the third category.
The Exceptional Rate supports the care of a foster child who is at risk of placement in higher-level out-of-home care such as a group home or residential treatment facility. Perhaps a child requires hands-on care, medical care, or daily self-care. Also, developmental delays and severe behavior problems are considered for an exceptional rate.
Often, a child who requires an extraordinary amount of supervision or has heightened mental health will qualify for an exceptional rate. In addition to the care mentioned above, Wisconsin has a policy that awards foster families for keeping sibling groups together. A large percentage of Community Care Resources foster families care for sibling groups. The majority of CCR families care for more than one child at a time.
Wisconsin requires all foster parents to complete a financial statement during the application process. Applicants must demonstrate financial stability. Your monthly income or portfolio must be enough to consistently pay all of your household bills and cover all expenses for family members living in your home. It does not matter how much or how little. Applicants must demonstrate financial stability on the application.
The actual stipend amount is different for every child. Foster parents can expect the Basic Rate plus additional monies from Supplemental and Exceptional rates to offset the costs of providing care to kids. Many foster parents say the stipend covers all costs with money remaining each month. Others express that it could never be enough based on the care required.
All CCR foster parents are given an estimated stipend amount before placement. There is a maximum and no monthly payment for the combined Basic Maintenance, Supplemental, and Exceptional Rates may exceed $2,000 in Wisconsin.
Ready to begin the process of becoming a foster parent? We would love to speak with you and give you all the details and answers you're looking for.