Foster care is a temporary alternative to a child's own home when that home becomes socially, emotionally or physically inadequate for the child's needs. Foster children range in age from infant to 18; however, the biggest need is for homes for troubled teenagers.
All foster children have unique backgrounds, experiences, personalities, strengths and needs. Some may require extensive care for physical or emotional handicaps or disabilities.
Most foster children do not have a strong sense of belonging or a strong sense of self-worth. Many of them have been victims of physical or sexual abuse, some have suffered neglect and some children and infants require extensive medical care.
Must a foster parent accept any child the agency offers?
No. Available information about a child is shared with you before placement so that you and the child's case manager can decide together whether the child should be placed in your home. In occasional emergency situations, very little may be known about the child at the time of placement.
Can foster parents adopt a foster child?
Most foster children are not available for adoption. If a child does become adoptable, the foster family may apply.
Do I have to be married or own my own home?
Single adults may apply to be foster parents and you do not have to own your own home.
What are the basic requirements to be a foster parent?
You must be 21 years of age or older and a responsible, mature individual to become a licensed foster parent.
You will be asked to provide truthful information regarding alcohol and drug abuse and law violations that may hinder your ability to provide a stable, nurturing environment. Giving false information or withholding information can be grounds for denial of a license.
What is the process to become a licensed foster parent?
You, your family and a licensing specialist will meet several times. For the most part, the appointments will be in your home. Orientation and training for effective parenting with emphasis on working with children with special needs may be provided. The process typically takes 3 - 6 months and It includes at least 3 home visits by the Foster Care Coordinator.
Who pays for the care of children in foster care?
Foster parents receive money for room, board and other living expenses from the placing agency. There are also supplemental payments for the care of children with special needs.
How are the child's medical needs paid for?
Foster children are covered by Title XIX (medical assistance) or the insurance of their birth parents.
What sleeping arrangements should I have for a child?
Children over one year old may not share a bedroom with an adult. Children over six years old may not share a bedroom with a child of the opposite sex and each foster child must have his or her own bed.
Can I have a job and care for a foster child?
A foster parent may work outside of the home if appropriate arrangements can be made for childcare during the absence of the foster parent(s).
Will I be involved with the child's birth parents?
Usually children will have visits with their parents. The child's case manager will help schedule the visits and make travel arrangements. Federal requirements outline that the agency must first and foremost strive for reunification of a child to his/her family above all else. This will include visitations (supervised or unsupervised). The Outagamie County Human Services Foster Care Program strongly encourages contact and communication between birth/adoptive parents and foster parents. Studies have shown better outcomes for children in foster care when compared to other types of placements such as: shorter placements, stability of placements and less behavioral problems of the child in placement. That being said, this is determined case by case with foremost focus on everyone’s safety and well being.
Can I take a foster child on vacation?
Yes. If you are planning on taking a child out of state, prior approval is needed from the supervising agency.
What kind of support services are available?
Agency staff will help you understand your foster child and find community resources to deal with any problems that arise. Special training sessions are made available and support groups are available in some communities. A 24 hour answering service is provided for emergencies. The Outagamie County Foster Care Program uses a number of programs to support foster families with a placement. In house trainings, webinars, a resource library, membership to Foster Care and Adoption Resource Center, newsletters, this website, referrals to outside resources specializing in what you are experiencing with you foster child, foster parent support groups, and individual access to a social worker, supervisors, and the foster care coordinator are examples of services available to foster families.
What if an emergency comes up and the agency is closed or it is a weekend?
All foster families are provided with an after hours crisis phone number. This number is staffed by social workers of Outagamie and Calumet County Human Services Department that have a number of resources available to them.