Children enter Wisconsin foster care every day and range in age from infancy up to age 18 years. Deciding to become a foster parent means giving great consideration to the ages of children you wish to help. Foster parents can preference foster children by age but, we caution new foster parents not to have a preference that is too narrow or specific. Here is why.
The median age of children in, entering, and exiting foster care in the United States in 2018 was as follows:
The median age of the children in foster care in 2018 was 7.6 years.
The median age of children entering foster care during 2018 was 6.1 years.
The median age of children exiting foster care during 2018 was 7.5 years.
While some kids are in basic foster care homes, others are in treatment foster care homes, many are placed with a relative, and older kids may be in a residential facility or group home. There are typically slightly more males (52%) compared to females (48%) and the age range of kids in Wisconsin foster care is typical to the numbers nationally.
If you click on any of our "Contact Us" options you will see that we ask straight up what your age preference is. What many prospective foster parents will be disappointed to learn is that we DO NOT have a need for families wishing to foster kids under the age of 3. Especially babies! Many younger children will be placed with a relative or remain in a county foster home. Private foster agencies rarely place children ages 0-3 unless they are part of a larger sibling group.
We regularly receive inquiries from folks who want to foster to adopt. Dare we say, gently, that foster care should not be used as a means of adopting a child. The goal of foster care is to provide a temporary, safe, healing environment for a child that has been removed from their family home, and reunification with birth family is the goal over 50% of the time. Does adoption happen? Yes, but if it is the goal you set yourself up to get a broken heart.
We are blunt here at CCR and we are quick to tell folks that we cannot consider a license for anyone with the single goal is to adopt a little one.
So what do we mean exactly? New CCR foster parents must be open to fostering children of school age. We typically break it down by elementary, middle, and high school. The wider your window of preference, the better chance of getting placements and helping children. The bottom line is if you want to foster little ones you must be open to fostering any age between 0-12. Many younger children are in foster care with siblings, so age ranges can vary within a group.
The need never seems to change. Across the country, foster agencies are desperate for new families to accept kids over age 12. Sadly, older youth come with huge stigmas, terrible rumors, and are circled with negative stories that they are ALL troubled and can't be helped. There is nothing further from the truth and we have hundreds of success stories to dismantle those thoughts.
This is a great testimony from John who was in care with us for 3 years and thrived.
After my sophomore year is when things really started happening for me. I felt like I was a part of something, I was starting to let my foster parents love me. My caseworker Matt (with CCR 16 years) was there for me 100 percent throughout everything. Sophomore year was tough, I sabotaged myself and wished my foster parents would give up on me and have me moved. I tested them for sure! In my junior and senior years, I really just started turning things around. With CCR there is always somebody there to help you, there is always somebody there to stand by your side, to stick up for you at all times. My foster parents are still like family to me.
The vast majority of kids are over age 5 and in elementary school. Many are sibling groups. Sadly kids between ages 9-12 seem to be the forgotten age group in foster care. Folks tend to think they can "help" little ones more and almost everyone believes teens will be the most difficult. Both of those statements are untrue! We have hundreds of foster parents that will debunk both of those myths.
We will never talk you into doing something you aren't comfortable with. Nor will we place children in your home that you are not trained and licensed to care for. Remember, there are 3 different levels of Wisconsin foster care: 2, 3, and 4. The higher the number a child is given, the higher the level of trauma and emotional and behavioral needs. The higher the number the license is given, the more experience and training a foster home has to care for those children respectively.
We will help you explore which age group might be the best fit for your family. Perhaps you have little kids of your own, maybe you are an empty nester, or have never been a parent. No worries, we will gently walk you through the options and what that might look like for you and your family.