What is Foster Care?
Becoming a Foster Parent
Foster Parent Responsibilities
Policies and Forms
Foster Parent Training
Support for Foster Parents
Web Resources

What is Foster Care

Foster Care is temporary care, supervision, and maintenance of a child placed in a home or foster care facility licensed by La Crosse County or a private child welfare agency.


La Crosse County foster parents provide care for children who cannot remain with biological families for a variety of reasons. These include: physical, sexual, and emotional abuse; neglect; medical or physical disability of the child; delinquency issues; or the biological parents’ emotional or physical needs.

Types of Foster Homes

Emergency | Ongoing | Legal Risk | Respite

Emergency Foster Homes:

Emergency foster homes are available 24 hours per day to accept placement of children due to child abuse and neglect concerns. We have two homes on-call at all times, one home for children birth to 5 years of age and one home for children 5 to 12 years of age. When we have a need for placement of a teenager due to child abuse and neglect concerns, generally the on-call home for older children will accept placement. There are approximately six to eight foster homes that rotate and share on-call responsibilities.  

When the Child Protection intake worker is paged by Law Enforcement after-hours and on weekends they call directly to the emergency home on-call and notify them of the pending placement.  

If there is need for placement of a child(ren) during the regular workday the placement may be diverted from emergency care and the child(ren) placed directly into an ongoing foster home.

While a child is placed in emergency foster care the Child Protection intake worker will be working to re-unite the child with their parent(s) or appropriate relatives. If it is not possible to re-unite the child(ren) and parent(s) due to safety issues that can not be managed by the family, the intake worker will request an on-going foster care placement. Placements in emergency foster care shall not exceed 60 days.

Ongoing Foster Homes:

La Crosse County has approximately 85 foster homes that accept placement of children.  Ongoing foster parents are expected to work collaboratively with birth parents and sometimes other relatives of the children placed in their home. These foster parents need to cooperate with family interaction schedules and participate in team meetings with regard to the child and/or the case plan.

Many ongoing foster homes have expressed a preference for children of a certain age, or due to space and bedroom availability can only accept placement of one sex at a time. Some have only enough space for one or two children, while others can take the maximum number of four and enjoy the challenge of working with sibling groups.

When a social worker has a need for an ongoing foster placement they meet with the Permanency Resource Unit at a "finder's" meeting. They discuss the needs of the child, family interaction time schedule, school placement and other variables concerning the child/family. The social workers attempt to "match" the child with the most appropriate foster family.

Once a placement match has been established a Permanency Resource Unit worker contacts the prospective foster family and discusses the child and identified needs of the child/family. Emergency foster parent(s) are often encouraged to contact the selected ongoing foster family to exchange information about the child(ren). In some cases a pre-placement visit is facilitated. In other cases the social worker will take the child and sometimes the birth parent(s) to meet with the new foster family prior to placement.

Within the first thirty days of the placement an assessment of the child will occur in accordance with the supplemental/exceptional rate setting guidelines. The foster parents, the Permanency Resource Unit social worker and the social worker for the child/family will meet as a team and complete the assessment.  This assessment is used in determining the monthly foster care reimbursement the foster family will receive, and the amount of respite that will be available for the foster family to utilize.

Legal Risk Foster Homes:

Concurrent planning homes have "self-identified" as foster families that are interested in adopting children should the case go to a Termination of Parental Rights. These homes accept placement of children in foster care and have the responsibility to work with the social worker and follow the case plan including family interaction time.

Sometimes newborns and infants are placed directly into concurrent planning homes to avoid multiple moves for the child(ren). Concurrent planning foster homes are also expected to work with birth parents as the case plan dictates. Oftentimes, in cases of a newborn placement visits might be occurring every day and it might be best for the child and for the birth parent to visit in the foster home.

Respite Homes:

La Crosse County also certifies homes to provide short-term respite services to foster families.  These homes typically provide care in 1 to 2 day increments although in special situations may go up to 14 days.  Respite homes are not eligible for ongoing placement.

If you’re interested in learning more about the respite program or how to become licensed as a respite provider, call Rhonda Rude at (608)789-4834 or send an email.


 La Crosse County, Wisconsin

 County Website | County Services | Minutes/Agendas | Code of Ordinance County Directory | Departments