Frequently asked questions about foster care and adoption

What is foster care?

Foster care is the temporary placement of a child in a home away from his or her family. Children are placed in foster care for various reasons. Some examples include a child who is a victim of abuse or neglect or a child whose parent is incarcerated or hospitalized. Placement in a foster home protects the child while working with the biological family to help them get back on their feet. The goal is for the child to return home to his or her biological family.

What is expected of a foster parent?

A foster parent must be committed to providing a safe and nurturing family environment for a child until they can return home to live with his or her biological family. Foster parents are expected to attend to and meet a child’s individual needs and be meaningfully involved in all aspects of the child’s life: school, therapy, social network. Foster parents are expected to work as part of the child’s treatment team, along with social workers involved in the case and the biological families.

What is the average length of stay a foster child will be in our home?

Currently, a child’s average length of stay in foster care is 12-18 months. However, the length of stay in foster care varies depending on the child and the biological family’s case plan. A child may stay in a foster home until his or her biological parents are able to care for them again or until a suitable placement can be made with a relative. If this is not possible, a child may stay in the foster home until they can be adopted.

Do the children have contact with their biological parents while in foster care?

Foster care is intended to be a short-term arrangement until kids can safely return to their family. Foster parents are asked to support the child’s connection to the biological family as the goal of foster care is to return children to their biological families. Biological parents have opportunities to visit and have contact with their children. The ideal fostering situation is one in which all interested parties work in partnership toward the best interests of the child.

Who are the children in foster care?

The children range from newborn to 21 years old. The majority of children and youth have some degree of physical, behavioral and emotional needs stemming from the difficulty some of them have experienced in their lives. Many children in foster care are part of a sibling group.

Training, information and referrals to community resources are provided for foster parents to help them understand issues associated with the trauma foster children may have experienced. Children are amazingly resilient. Foster parents can make a difference by providing a structured, nurturing environment.

What is expected of an adoptive parent?

Adoptive parents must be committed to providing a forever family for a child who cannot return to their biological family. They are expected to attend to and meet their child’s long-term physical, emotional and mental health needs. As an adoptive family, every effort will be made to find the child that matches your home best, but it will depend largely on the children available at the time of your request and the length of time you are willing to wait. Some of the children available for adoption can be viewed here: wiadopt.org

How long does the foster/adoptive home licensing process take?

The foster and adoptive home-licensing process takes approximately 90-120 days from your initial contact with a licensing worker. This time frame depends on the families’ ability to meet and provide the required paperwork. No one may be refused a foster or adoption application or license based on race, gender, religion or sexual orientation.

What are the training requirements for foster and adoptive parents?

Training is a very important component of fostering and adopting because children in foster care have a variety of unique needs. Your licensing worker will arrange your foster/adoptive parent education schedule with you. General foster care and adoptive parents must complete three pre-license sessions prior to receiving a license. Treatment and respite foster care parents must complete nine pre-license sessions prior to receiving a license. These sessions provide prospective foster and adoptive parents the skills and knowledge essential to provide a stable and nurturing environment for children and clarify any information you are learning through the licensing process. Once licensed, ongoing training is required and must be completed yearly in order to keep your license in good standing.

What if I’m not in perfect health?

All foster and adoptive parents are asked to provide a medical statement. If you have problems that would interfere with your ability to parent, your health issues will be reviewed carefully with you and your physician and a decision made as to your eligibility to foster and/or adopt.

What are the costs associated with foster care?

There are no fees to become a foster parent. Foster parents receive a stipend to meet the needs of the child. You can apply for daycare aid through the state of Wisconsin. Medical and dental expenses, other than over-the counter medicines and supplies, are covered. Foster children are covered by Medicaid (Title 19 medical assistance).

What is the cost associated with the adoption process?

The costs associated with the adoption process are minimal and are reimbursable. The costs include a charge to receive a new birth certificate and a court-filing fee.

Will I receive any financial help once I adopt?

Adoptive parents are financially responsible for their child. However, some children being adopted through the child welfare system are eligible for Adoption Assistance. Adoption Assistance is a federal program administered by the state that provides a monthly stipend and health insurance for children adopted from foster care until age 18.

Once I adopt, will contact with the biological parents end?

Many adopted children maintain contact with their biological family if the adoptive family decides it is in the best interest of the child. This is discussed with your social worker during the adoption process and is a decision you can make as a family.

Video resources

Resources to help you decide what is best for you and your family.

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