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How much are foster parents paid?

Wisconsin foster parents receive a monthly payment, also called a stipend, 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 our experience speaking with prospective foster parents, most folks never ask about the money. However, prospective foster parents need to understand. 

Do Wisconsin foster parents get paid?

CCR foster parents care for kids of all ages with various traumatic histories. If you ask our foster parents, many will tell you they feel like professional parents, providing 24/7 care and supervision. Caring for kids involves many expenses and responsibilities and often feels like a "job." Children need structure, supervision, mentoring, coaching, and driving to appointments while living in a loving, stable home environment. That is a lot of responsibility. While all those responsibilities may sound like a "job," foster parents are not paid a salary.

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Being a foster parent is one of the most challenging yet rewarding roles to assume without monetary reward. Unfortunately, there is no get-rich-quick scheme for fostering children. There is no paycheck to sustain a particular lifestyle, pay the mortgage, or make car payments. However, there is a reimbursement to help cover expenses for caring for a child/youth. Also known as a stipend.

Should foster parents be paid employees of Wisconsin? 

The answer depends on who you ask. Some people believe foster parents should be salaried employees of Wisconsin, while others believe the stipend system works best. Many folks 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 there is a stipend 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. We rarely, if ever, speak with a prospective foster parent looking for payment. Most often, those who inquire are pleasantly surprised to learn of the reimbursement.

Let us explain the details of foster parent compensation and how payments are calculated.

Foster parents receive a monthly payment to care for the needs of a child.

Three rates determine what Wisconsin foster parents receive for caring for a child. Let's explore all three to understand better how each is calculated.

The Basic Maintenance Rate is intended to cover a child's basic needs. It is a non-taxable reimbursement given to foster parents to pay for caring for a foster child. Costs associated with caring for a foster child, such as food, clothing, school needs, basic transportation, and personal care, are reimbursed by the state to a foster parent. The State Legislature sets the Wisconsin Uniform Foster Care Rate. The rate corresponds with a child's age.

All foster parents caring for non-relative children receive the Basic Rate.

Foster children with higher needs are assessed regularly.

As a treatment-level foster agency placing kids with trauma histories, CCR foster parents receive additional payments calculated as follows:   

The Supplemental Rate is an additional payment for foster children with 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

Measures are in place to allow the foster parent and caseworker to participate in the scoring. We aim to score fairly and accurately with full transparency, utilizing a team approach with the referring county. A CANS assessment is performed every six months or as determined to be necessary by the case manager and placing agency.

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Keeping at-risk youth in a family environment.

Care considered above and beyond what is typically needed falls into the third category.

The Exceptional Rate supports the care of a foster child 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. Additionally, developmental delays and severe behavior problems are considered for an exceptional rate.

A child who requires extra supervision or has heightened mental health will often 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. Most CCR families care for more than one child at a time.

Foster parents MUST be financially stable.

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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 your household bills and cover all expenses for family members living in your home. In addition, CCR foster parents must be free of government assistance. 

In addition to the monthly stipend, all foster children receive Medicaid health benefits. Keep in mind that the actual stipend amount is different for every child. CCR foster parents can expect the Basic Rate and Supplemental and Exceptional rates to offset the costs of providing care to kids. County foster parents providing "basic" care receive the basic rate only. 

As of January 2023, basic rates for caring for non-relatives are as follows: 

  • Ages 0 – 4 $420.00  
  • Ages 5 – 11 $460.00  
  • Ages 12 – 14 $522.00  
  • Ages 15 – 18 $545.00  

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. The average stipend received by CCR foster parents is $900. Again, the stipend is non-taxable. Remember, every child has a different level of need, and no two stipends can be compared.   

Ready to begin the process of becoming a foster parent? We would love to speak with you.

 

 

 

 

 

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