BECOMING A FOSTER PARENT
Open Your Heart, Open Your Home
"We are foster parents because we want to make a difference in the life of a child. Kids come to our home to heal and grow. Becoming foster parents was one of the best decisions we ever made"
- Foster Parent, Waukesha County
"When my mom wasn't able to take care of me I went into a foster home. My foster parents gave me attention, caring and love - just like my mom. I'm still friends with my foster parents today".
- Foster Child, Waukesha County
What Is Foster Care?
Foster care provides children with a temporary home and family when their parents are unable to meet their needs and keep them safe. There are many reasons a child may be removed from his/her biological home. It could be due to physical, emotional or sexual abuse or due to neglect. Foster care provides these children with a stable, safe and nurturing environment while their parents work on improving their situations.
Foster care is designed to be a temporary solution to meet the children's needs until they can return home safely. A child may remain in foster care for a few days or many months. Recent legislative changes have been designed to minimize the length of time a child spends in foster care.
Whenever possible, children are returned to their birth parents. Foster parents are encouraged to work towards reuniting the child with his/her parents. Contacts include the biological parent participating in visitation, doctor appointments and school activities.
Before a child is placed in a particular home, the foster parent receives background information about the child, including any medical, physical and behavior problems that exist, as well as any mental health issues. Based on the information provided, the foster parent can make an informed decision as to whether they think a particular child would be a good match for their family.
Foster Parent Qualities?
Desire - Foster parents should possess a natural liking for children and enjoy caring for them. Foster parents should have a desire to make a difference in a child's life.
Stability - One of the biggest needs foster children have is the need for stability. Foster parents should have a stable home and personal life. Foster parents should be mature adults, happy in their own lives, who can provide children with love, security, understanding and stability. They should have the ability to remain calm in times of crisis and have a lot of patience.
Acceptance - Foster children need to be accepted, regardless of their actions or behaviors. Many foster children have suffered crises in their own home and may be resentful, bad-tempered or angry. Foster parents need to have the ability to give children affection and caring without expecting an immediate return of love and appreciation.
Availability - Fostering requires a lot of time. Responsibilities include taking children to medical appointments, therapy appointments, transportation, as well as spending quality time with them.
Cooperation - Foster parents in Waukesha County are considered a part of a team. Their help is needed in developing plans concerning what is in the best interest of the child. Other members of the team include the biological parents, the social workers, other family members and at times, attorneys. During the first 6 - 12 months in care, the goal is to reunite children with their parents.
Family - An active commitment to fostering needs to come from all members of the family. The entire foster family needs to be willing to open their homes and their hearts to children. Foster children need to feel they are a part of the entire family.
Knowledge - Fostering requires a basic knowledge of child care skills, as well as familiarity of the stages of child development. These skills should help foster parents identify emotional, physical and behavioral indicators of abuse and neglect, as well as provide age appropriate discipline.
In order to become a foster home in Wisconsin, you must obtain a foster home license, unless you are a relative or guardian of the child. There are several qualifications a person must meet to become licensed as a foster parent. These include:
Potential foster parents need to participate in several interviews in the prospective foster parents home. The purpose of these interviews is to see if the home, as well as the prospective foster parent, satisfies the state's requirements and meets the needs of the children available for placement.
A physical examination is required. The prospective foster parents and all household members must provide a written statement from their doctor stating they are free from diseases harmful to children and that they are physically and emotionally able to care for children under the age of 18.
Prospective foster parents and any children over the age of twelve that reside in the home must agree to undergo a criminal background check. The applicant and any children over the age of twelve residing in their home cannot possess any criminal charges that may have an impact on their caring for children in a safe and appropriate manner.
Prospective foster parents must furnish proof of their automobile liability insurance as well as their homeowners and/or renters insurance.
If prospective foster parents drive an automobile they must provide proof that they have a valid drivers license.
A prospective foster parent must have sufficient income to meet their own expenses. While the agency reimburses the foster parent for the child's basic needs, foster parents should not think of this as a way to make an extra income. Foster parents are paid for the child's room, board and some clothing. Basic monthly payments start at $366.00 and can increase based on the child's age and needs (Uniform Foster Care Rate). Medical insurance for children in foster care is covered under Title 19 (Medicaid).
A foster home license is issued for not more than 2 years at a time. At the time the license expires, the foster parents may apply for a renewal. There is no charge for a foster home license.
All Foster Parents for Waukesha County Department of Health and Human Services are required to take a six hour Pre-Placement training during the licensing process. The classes are offered once a month. This training will provide the foster parent with the basic knowledge to foster their first placement. During the first two years of being licensed and during their first placement, Foundation Training will be required. This training will be offered twice per year. The Department will also offer ongoing training several times a year on various topics.
Life Story Book from Tenessee's Department of Children's Services