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 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.
La Crosse County has approximately 100 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 time schedules and participate in team meetings with regard to the child and/or the case plan.
Specialized foster parents have expectations and responsibilities above and beyond the typical duties of foster families. La Crosse County has approximately seventeen to twenty specialized foster homes. These homes accept placement of children with identified moderate or intense special needs that are behavioral, emotional or related to their physical/personal care. The foster parents are required to have experience and/or training as well as demonstrated competence in working with children/youth with special needs.
Specialized foster parents must attend all team meetings, school meetings and be available to work intensely with the social worker, the birth family and oftentimes our foster parent consultant. The children/youth placed in specialized foster care are assessed by the primary care team within the first thirty days of placement. Rates are set in accordance with the supplemental/exceptional rate setting guidelines and additional respite care may be authorized for the foster parents based on the emotional, behavioral and physical/personal care needs of the child/youth.
Specialized foster parents must understand the needs of the child, the focus of the treatment plan and be able to implement strategies to help the child achieve positive performance at school, in the community and in the home environment. Children placed in specialized foster care often require intensive "eyes on supervision" 24 hours per day. Behavioral plans often include accountability and consequences as well as rewards for success.
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.