Qualifying to become a Wisconsin foster parent is much easier than you may think. There are many myths surrounding foster care that should definitely be ignored. The basic qualifications to provide foster care in Wisconsin are easily met by the vast majority of people that contact us. Basically, if you can offer a healthy home environment, have bed space, are financially stable, and have some flexibility, you are halfway there! Let's explore the 5 most important qualifiers and debunk some of the myths about fostering in Wisconsin.
Yes, there is a need in your county. No matter what county or town you live in, we need more loving homes in your area. As a statewide agency, we are able to license new homes throughout the state of Wisconsin. We never know what counties kids will come to us from so we must have as many homes as possible across the state so we can place children as quickly as possible. CCR currently has foster homes in 36 Wisconsin counties. All new CCR foster parents begin at level 2, (just like county foster care) except those transferring from another agency already licensed at a higher level.
If you are in a relationship and living together hoping to become foster parents, your relationship must be healthy and stable. We prefer couples to be together/committed/married for at least 3 years prior to applying. By this time the honeymoon phase of a newer relationship is over and the early kinks, if any, have been worked out.
Stability is one of the many important things foster kids have been missing in their family and home life. Entering a foster home that can promote strong, healthy relationships is vital to a child's success during and post foster care.
If you are single, yes, you CAN be a single foster parent. However, there are a few more pieces to consider if you wish to foster with CCR. Single foster parents must have a dependable support system, family, or friends that can help when you are unavailable to your foster kids.
Consistency and stability are key to a child's success. Foster parents are required to be available before and after school to provide a structured routine for foster kids. If you cannot be there, who will be your dependable backup person?
Let's talk about money. It is difficult for some people to ask about but it is so important to understand. First of all, there is NO cost to become a foster parent.
Secondly, foster parents get a monthly stipend to care for a child, it is based on a child's age and needs. Foster parents must be able to pay their bills on their own and may not use the monthly foster care stipend to help take care of bills. There is NOT a minimum salary or wage requirement. Basically, foster parents may not rely on the monthly stipend as income. It is designed to care for the foster child. In other words, don't foster for the money.
All foster parents must have some day to day flexibility to meet the appointments and schedules of foster kids. Yes, foster parents can work and daycare is available for younger children (paid for by the state). However, rigid work schedules that do not allow for unplanned interruptions or scheduled appointments during business hours, do not work well with foster children.
Single, working foster parents, just like couples that are both working, must consider school schedules, breaks, and summer vacation. Not all children are appropriate to attend before and after school programs or daycare. What will your plan be for your foster kids in the summer and on breaks?
All CCR foster homes receive a weekly home visit. The visits last for about 45 minutes per child and are designed by your Case Manager to support you in all areas of fostering. Your foster kids will also receive a weekly visit, either at school or in your home. These visits take place Monday-Thursday during business hours. Your Case Manager will arrange a set schedule that works well for you both.
Most children have court-ordered visits with their biological families. Foster parents are responsible for driving their foster kids to their visits. This could be weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly. Visits are supervised by the county and foster parents are not required to stay for the visit. Friends and family can help drive your kids if you are unavailable.
Every foster home must have at least 2 bedrooms. It does not matter how small or big your house is, as long as it is safe and comfortable with enough space for everyone. Foster kids can share with each other or with your children, this is your decision.
There are some rules to follow such as; no child over age 6 may share a room with a child of the opposite sex if unrelated. Also, each child must have at least 40 square feet of space, if you have a bedroom measuring at least 8x10 (80 sq. ft) that is ample space for two children. Bunk beds for kids are always a great use of space.
You need not have a squeaky clean background to be a foster parent. Most misdemeanors will not affect your ability to qualify, nor will traffic violations. Any previous felonies will be reviewed and not all felonies will ban you from fostering so don't be afraid to explore if you have past arrests or have served some time. If you have a history you would like to discuss, our team is happy to speak with you in confidence.
Approximately 50 Wisconsinites contact us each month to inquire about becoming a foster parent. Most meet the basic qualifications right over the phone. If you are interested in learning more, please call us. Our advisor is happy to speak with you and has been a foster parent herself, she understands and remembers well what exploring foster care is all about.