THE NEED FOR MORE FOSTER HOMES IS GREATER THAN EVER. OUR OFFICE IS OPEN.
If you are considering providing foster care in Wisconsin you will want to understand how foster parent payments are calculated 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.
Each of our foster parents spends 3-4 months working through the process 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. Their "job" is to provide a child with love, consistency, and a stable home environment in which the child can heal from trauma.
Foster care is NOT an "easy income". In fact, being a foster parent may be one of the most difficult, challenging, and rewarding jobs one will ever choose. Fostering is a beautiful way to truly change the lives of children. Expenses related to caring for kids are reimbursed on a monthly basis, as we will explore here in detail.
Some people believe foster parents should be salaried employees of the state of Wisconsin. Many foster parents caring for a higher level of need child(ren) 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. We often refer to it as the "elephant in the room". Many people don't want to ask about payments out of fear of being judged as in it for the money. Others don't even know that there is a payment involved in fostering.
Payment options have been debated and argued for years by foster parents, social workers, and policymakers in Wisconsin and at the federal level. For now, let us explain what we do know about foster parent compensation.
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 basic 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 additional needs such as emotional, behavioral, or medical needs. All children placed with Community Care Resources, no matter their level of care, 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 their level of need. CCR licenses for the care of levels 2, 3, and 4.
Brian Sullivan is the Referral Coordinator at CCR. For over 20 years, Brian has collaborated with counties across Wisconsin to place children and sibling groups 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.
Prior to placement, we provide foster parents with as much information as we have about a child’s needs and levels of trauma. We have a variety of foster homes operating at different levels. Basic level 2, level 3, and level 4. Each child's history is given to CCR and 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 such as a group home or residential treatment facility. 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 an exceptional rate.
Often times a child who requires an extraordinary amount of supervision or has mental health requiring additional 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.
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 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. CCR foster parents receive between $700-$1500 monthly for each child in their care. Foster parents caring for Level 4 children are receiving the higher stipend.
All CCR foster parents are given an estimated stipend amount by Brian, our Referral Coordinator prior to placement. There is a maximum, and no monthly payment for the combined Basic Maintenance, Supplemental, and Exceptional Rates may exceed $2,000 in the state of Wisconsin. CCR typically does not see stipends higher than $1,300.
Level 2 foster homes can anticipate a stipend of approximately $700 per month, per child.
Ready to begin the process to become a foster parent? We would love to speak with you and give you all the details and answers you're looking for.