Becoming a Foster Parent
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 Door 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.
Training is necessary to prepare foster parents and help them to continue to develop as a foster parent.
Being a successful foster parent means continuing to learn through:
Classes and other training methods
Reading books or magazines
Talking with other foster parents
Continually developing new skills
Each foster parent is required to complete training in relation to their Level of Care certification. Training requirements fall into three categories:
All licensed foster parents receive a foster care payment to reimburse for the care of a foster child, called the Uniform Foster Care Rate. The foster care licensing agency will provide foster parents with a copy of a brochure explaining the Uniform Foster Care Rate, reimbursement amounts, clothing allowances, and how to appeal the foster care rate.
See Wisconsin Foster Care FAQs: https://dcf.wisconsin.gov/fostercare/faq to answer more questions you may have, or call us! Door County Health and Human Services (920) 746-7155, [email protected]