Become a Foster Parent in Wisconsin

Foster parents play a critical role for children, families, and agencies. The foster parent’s primary task is to temporarily care for a child until the child’s permanence goal is achieved. The foster parent’s role is also unique and involves much more.

Foster parents are expected to comply with:

  • agency requirements
  • meet foster home licensing standards
  • communicate any important information about the child to the caseworker and the court.

Foster parenting also means working in partnership with:

  • the child’s family
  • the agency
  • as applicable, the child’s tribe to support the child during placement

Foster parents make sure the child’s basic needs are met and include the family in as much of the child’s life as possible. As the child’s family case progresses, foster parents prepare the child to go home or to reach another permanence goal, such as adoption or guardianship.

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 social workers who will license your home.

Are there requirements to become a foster parent?

Successful 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 their own children, or are caring for children for the first time

But, foster parents have two things in common: they want to help children, and they have the ability to roll with the punches. Most importantly, foster families need to provide safe, stable and caring homes for children.

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

  • Be 21 years of age or older
  • Be a responsible adult
  • 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 most 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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