Become a Foster Parent in Wisconsin

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Foster parents are important partners to children, their families and child welfare agencies across the state and are an important partner in helping children reunite with their families. Foster parents temporarily care for a child until the child achieves permanency through reunification, or in some cases guardianship or adoption.

Foster parents also support the child's family and are important partners in helping them reach their goals. The commitment to the whole family makes fostering more than a temporary place for a child - it provides the community that all families need to thrive.

Foster parents are expected to:

  • Comply with agency requirements
  • Meet foster home licensing standards
  • Communicate any important information about the child to the child welfare professional and/or the court, as needed

Foster parenting also means working in partnership with:

  • The child’s family (biological or adoptive parents, relatives, other caregivers, etc.)
  • The county agency
  • As applicable, the child’s tribe to support the child during placement

Foster parents make sure the child’s needs are met and that they are in a place where they can thrive. Foster parents also include the child's family in the child’s life so they can keep and grow crucial family, community and cultural connections. As the child’s family, child welfare professional and foster parents work toward supporting the family's goals to achieve a safe environment, foster parents must prepare the child to reunify with their families or to reach another permanence goal, such as guardianship or adoption.

How do I become a foster parent?

Counties, tribes and private agencies license foster parents in Wisconsin.

The foster care coordinator will give you more information about becoming a foster parent with their agency, such as:

  • Licensing requirements, policies and standards
  • What to expect as a foster parent
  • The foster parent application for their agency

During the application process, you will fill out paperwork and meet with a licensing specialist who will complete the licensing process for you and your home.

Are there requirements to become a foster parent?

Foster parents come from a variety of backgrounds.

Foster parents are:

  • All different ages
  • Races
  • Income levels
  • Occupations
  • Single or married
  • Own their own homes or rent apartments
  • Work in or outside of their homes
  • have birth children or are caring for children for the first time

To become a foster parent, you must meet all of the following:

  • Be 21 years of age or older
  • Be a responsible adult, as defined in Ch. 56.05(1)
  • Completion of a criminal background check, including:
    • Review of law violations
    • Other background information as required
  • Your home must meet all physical environment requirements

There is no minimum income requirement for foster parents as long as they can take care of family expenses outside of the reimbursement received for fostering.

Complete foster home licensing requirements are listed in Wisconsin Administrative Code Chapter DCF 56.

Indian tribes are sovereign nations, which means they can create their own laws and regulations for certain programs or services. While some tribes use state licensing requirements, others have their own standards and policies. Foster parents licensed by or working with a tribe should contact the tribal agency to learn about the tribe’s policies.

Foster care coordinators work closely with the foster homes licensed by their agency. Foster care coordinators will make sure foster families follow the foster care rules and policies.

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