Qualifying to become a Wisconsin foster parent requires meeting financial requirements. Deciding to begin getting a foster care license begins with learning the facts. There is so much to consider! Schedules and finances are two factors prospective foster parents must consider. Do you have the required time to dedicate to foster kids, and can you afford to be a foster parent?
Yes and no. Wisconsin is one of many states that require foster parents to demonstrate financial stability. Don't panic. It isn't necessarily how much you have or how much you make; instead, the ratio of income to expenses. You must be able to maintain your household with your own financial means, whether that is a paycheck, a pension, alimony, social security, or a sizeable bank account.
If you are employed but struggle to cover your household and personal expenses, qualifying to foster will be difficult. If you are currently unemployed or don't have the necessary income to care for your household, you may not be eligible until you have a reliable, sufficient income source. For those on disability, the reason behind your disability status will be considered as it relates to your ability to care for children. Remember, we are looking for stable families to care for kids with trauma histories. It isn't easy, and if there are financial hardships in the home, fostering will only add to the stress.
If you are not employed by choice but have sufficient funds to maintain your household, that's acceptable. Receipt of a pension, social security benefits, alimony, or distributions from investments are all acceptable. If you can consistently pay your bills and take care of your household and family, you will most likely meet the financial requirements to be a foster parent. Whew! Good news.
If you have a steady income, it does not matter how much money you make. What matters is that as a foster parent, you can pay your bills with your own income, no matter how big or small.
NO. Foster parents are reimbursed for providing care. The reimbursement is called a stipend. It is not income, and it is not taxable. The monthly stipend is based on the child's age and needs. The more trauma, the higher the stipend. Why? Because caring for kids with trauma histories is a lot of work. There are more behaviors and emotions to navigate, 2-3 weekly appointments, and more supervision is often required. The stipend is designed to cover related expenses of temporarily caring for a child.
Believe it or not, many prospective foster parents we speak with have no idea that they will be reimbursed for expenses. Some are sincerely shocked when we tell them, then, out of fear of judgment, express that they are NOT doing it for the money. We believe them! We don't get inquiries from folks looking to foster for a paycheck. If that were the intention, they would not get past our recruitment advisor or licensing department!
Let's repeat it. The monthly stipend is designed to reimburse you for the monies spent on foster kids. It is not intended for foster parents to use for themselves, to upgrade or sustain a more desirable lifestyle. Keep in mind that your utilities will increase, grocery expenses will rise, clothing, school supplies, and extracurricular activities will all have associated costs.
Caring for kids is expensive! Keep reading to learn more about stipend calculations.
A flexible schedule is mandatory for all foster parents licensed with CCR. Before & after school, school breaks, summer vacation, unplanned interruptions, schedule changes, medical appointments, therapy appointments, biological family visits, family disruptions, and school truancy can all be part of fostering. WOW! A flexible schedule will play a critical role in a child's ability to heal and develop healthy relationships.
Single foster parents working full time AND couples working full-time will struggle to foster kids from hard places. It is why we REQUIRE a flexible schedule. So how on earth do we find foster parents when we require so much flexibility? It isn't easy. In fact, it is nearly impossible. While most households are dual income, single parents are working full-time, and rising living costs, our potential pool of new foster parents are a fraction of what it was years ago. What about daycare, after-school programs, and camps? Unfortunately, these are not the best options for kids with trauma histories. Our kids heal best when stability and structure are offered at home when they are not in school.
Children are deeply affected by what has been done to them, what has not been provided for them, and what they have witnessed. Being a foster parent can be stressful so being financially stable is very important.
Whether foster parents work full-time, part-time, or offer a stay-at-home parent, all foster parents receive a monthly basic maintenance rate for each child. The Uniform Foster Care Rate (UFCR) is a standard scale of monthly payments to foster parents for the cost of caring for a foster child. In addition, stipends may also include extra payments, called Supplemental and Exceptional Rate rates, in addition to a basic maintenance rate. These additional rates are based on a child's higher-level needs. All CCR families are receiving supplemental and exceptional rates due to the higher needs of the kids we place and if kids are part of a sibling group. We have a great blog with all the numbers here on our site. See below for that link.
When you call CCR, don't be afraid to ask about "the money." It isn't a topic to avoid, and you won't be judged for the asking. It is no different than asking how medical costs are covered. Feel comfortable talking about money and flexible schedules. Having all the facts upfront will help you make the best decision for you and your family. We will walk you through the details of becoming a foster parent with us and discuss what will be required of you and your family. Our responsibility is to ensure you have the necessary financial means, flexibility, and stability to foster youth with various trauma levels due to abuse and neglect.
For details about foster care stipends, read our blog How much are foster parents paid?.