Qualifying to become a Wisconsin foster parent is pretty simple. Making the decision to begin the process to get a foster care license can be a bit more difficult. There is so much to consider! Schedules and finances are two factors prospective foster parents spend the most time considering. Do you have the time to dedicate to foster kids and can you afford to be a foster parent?
Many prospective foster parents we speak with have no idea that they will be reimbursed by the state of Wisconsin to care for foster children. 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 speak frankly about money during our initial phone calls because it is important to know that you will be reimbursed for expenses. We give details over the phone and we will provide details here.
Wisconsin is one of many states that require foster parents to have an income.
Don't panic. It isn't necessarily how much you make, but the ratio of income to expenses.
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 furloughed due to Covid or any other reason, you may not qualify (for now). For those on disability, the reason behind your disability status will be considered as it relates to your ability to care for children.
The truth is, if you have a steady income, it does not matter how much money you make, it is whether or not, as a foster parent, you can pay your bills with your own income no matter how big or small.
If you are not employed (by choice) but have sufficient funds to maintain your household, that's acceptable. Receipt of a pension or taking social security benefits is fine too. Basically, 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.
Most states, like Wisconsin, require foster parents to have sufficient family income, separate from the foster care reimbursement, to meet the family’s needs and financial obligations. Again, it isn't how much you make, but more importantly, can you take care of your household with your own income without relying on the foster care payment.
The monthly stipend (payment) is designed to reimburse you for the monies spent on your foster kids. Obviously, 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 have costs.
Caring for kids is expensive! Keep reading to learn how much payments are.
This is non-negotiable.
A flexible schedule is mandatory for all foster parents licensed with Community Care Resources. Before & after school, school breaks, unplanned interruptions, schedule changes, medical appointments, therapy appointments, biological family visits, family disruptions, and school truancy can all be part of fostering. Your availability to your foster children will play an important role in a child's ability to heal and develop healthy relationships.
Single foster parents working full time must have flexibility AND have a designated backup person to count on during hours they are unavailable. Often times, daycare and after-school programs are not the best options for some foster children depending on behaviors and level of trauma. CCR requires a consistent schedule for all kids in care so they may benefit from a stable environment and have the opportunity for healing.
Kids in foster care have experienced a variety of abuse and neglect which creates a wide array of behaviors and emotions. Children are deeply affected by what has been done to them, what they have witnessed, and by what has not been provided for them. Being a foster parent isn't always easy but with weekly in-home support visits and access to 24/7 phone support, our case managers will hold your hand and support you on your journey.
Sadly, the stigma that foster parents "do it for the money" still exits. Yes, the monthly payment is very helpful to meet the needs of the kids but it won't make a foster parent wealthy. Again, your foster care application must demonstrate that your household can be maintained with your own financial earnings.
No matter if you are working full-time, part-time, or plan to be a stay-at-home parent, all foster parents receive a monthly stipend.
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. Because the rate is based on the needs of each child, it may also include extra payments (called Supplemental and Exceptional Rate payments) in addition to a basic maintenance rate.
Wisconsin's basic rates are determined by the age of the child. Effective January 2020 - January 2021
All children placed in out-of-home care in Wisconsin will have an assessment completed using the Child and Adolescent Needs & Strengths (CANS) tool. The assessment uses outcome measures to assess clinical status, well-being, level of functioning, and quality of life. The CANS tool will better inform agencies, case managers, and foster parents on the needed strengths of the child being placed in out-of-home care.
Each child will be given a Level of Need, 2, 3, or 4 which is based on their CANS scoring. Children will be matched using their Level of Need and the foster parents’ Level of Care certification. The exceptional and supplemental rates are added to the age-based rate. A typical monthly stipend for a Level 2 child placed in a Community Care Resources foster home is approximately $750. There is not a definite amount and all children have different needs. Thus, the higher the needs of a child, the higher the stipend will be.
At CCR we have many foster homes caring for level 3 and 4 children. These homes have at least one at home parent. Many couples are caring for up to 4 children at one time which creates a mini group home of sorts. Therapy and mental health services are an integral part of group care. All new CCR foster homes are licensed as a level 2 home (just like a county) and may move to a higher level of care with experience and further qualifications.
When you make the call to CCR, our advisor (a retired foster mom) will walk you through the details of becoming a foster parent with us and discuss what will be required of you and your family. It is our responsibility to make sure you have the necessary characteristics, financial means, and flexibility to foster youth who have a variety of levels of trauma due to abuse and neglect.