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Becoming a Foster Parent

Become an Everyday Hero!
Call us at (608) 789-4834 or email to learn more about becoming a foster parent.

Is Foster Care for Me? | Eligibility Requirements | Licensing Process Other Ways to Help Children in Foster Care


Is Foster Care for Me?


The following questions can help you decide whether foster parenting is the right fit for you and your family.


1.       Do you (and your significant other if applicable) have a happy stable life?

2.       Can you care for a child who has come from a different cultural background than yours?

3.       Do you like children and enjoy having them around twenty four hours a day?

4.       Are you mature and secure enough to realize that some children may have difficulty adjusting to your way of life? Do have the ability to accept a child where he or she is mentally, physically, socially, emotionally, or spiritually?

5.       Are you willing and able to make adjustments in your life and your home to meet the specific needs of a child placed in your home?

6.       Do you have enough space in your home for the child to have a bed of his or her own (not in a common living space)?

7.       Are the members of your family in good health?

8.       Does your income meet the basic needs of your own family?

9.       Could you accept the fact that a child placed in your home eventually may return to his or her own home or be placed elsewhere?

10.   Can you maintain a positive attitude toward a child’s parents, even though you may feel many of the problems the child experiences are a direct result of the parent’s actions?

11.   Are you willing and able to take a child to counseling sessions, doctor’s appointments, court hearings and other regular appointments?

12.   Would you welcome the advice and assistance of a social worker in a team effort to meet the needs of each child?


Also check out this tip sheet from the Foster Care and Adoption Resource Center: Is Fostering a Good Fit For Us? Things To Consider



Eligibility Requirements:


·         Resident of La Crosse County

·         At least 21 years of age

·         Physically able to care for a child

·         Compliance with DCF 56 – Foster Home Care for Children



Licensing Process:


1.      Initial contact

Begin the licensing process by calling Rhonda Rude at          (608)789-4834 or by email.


2.      Orientation

Orientation sessions for those interested in learning more about the foster care program are held once a month.  Participants will be given application materials, an overview of the program, and a chance to have any questions answered.  Please contact Rhonda Rude for details on the date, time, and location of orientation and to register.


3.      Complete an application packet

The application packet consists of the following forms:

·         Application

·         Disclosure of Financial Information

·         DCF 56 Child Foster Care Licensing Checklist

·         Criminal background check forms

·         Health Assessment forms

·         Firearms Declaration

·         Release of Information

·         Notice of Confidentiality


4.      Background and reference checks

A background check will be conducted by the agency and includes: national fingerprint check with FBI, State of Wisconsin Caregiver background check, domestic violence history, child protective services history, juvenile delinquency history, and Department of Motor Vehicle records check.


5.      Complete the foster care home study

A social worker from the Permanency Resource Unit will be assigned to conduct a series of interviews to gather information and complete an assessment. The assessment process will help us get to know you and your family and will assist in identifying your strengths and matching children to your home. Through home and office visits you will also learn more about our agency and children in need of placement.


The home study, also known as a Resource Family Assessment or SAFE (Structured Analysis Family Evaluation), consists of about 16 to 20 hours of face-to-face contact with each parent and some additional time with each child in the family.  The assessment tool is comprised of several categories: History, Personal Characteristics, Marital/Domestic Partner relationships, Others Residing in the Home, Extended Family Relationships, Physical/Social Environment, General Parenting, Specialized Parenting, and Adoption Issues. Each category has subheadings that are individually rated.  The assessment also includes a social history component and other demographic information about the home and household. Based on the results of the assessment, the licensor will make final recommendations about licensure as well as a support plan outlining any remaining needs that need to be met by the family prior to licensure.


6.      Complete required training

Click here for more information about training requirements for foster parents.


7.      Issuance or denial of license

A State of Wisconsin Foster Care License will be issued when all licensing requirements have been met.  The license will indicate the number, sex and age range of the child(ren) for whom you may provide care.  The license is in effect up to two years and may be renewed upon successful completion of re-licensing requirements. If a license is denied, the applicants have the right to appeal the decision to the State (for more information on this see DCF 56.10).  A record is kept of all persons who apply for a license including those who were denied a license or voluntarily chose not to complete the process.  This information is accessible by all social workers in the State of Wisconsin.




Other Ways to Help Children in Foster Care

We understand that not everyone is ready to become a foster parent, but there are many other ways that you, your business, church or service organization can help children in foster care and foster parents in your community.

  • Provide overnight or weekend respite care to give foster parents a break from their responsibilities.  To learn more about becoming a respite provider, call Rhonda Rude at (608) 789-4834 or send an email.

  • Help recruit people you believe would make good foster parents. Refer them to our website or encourage them to contact us at (608)789-4834 for more information.

  • Consider having your business donate door prizes to be used at various foster care appreciation events throughout the year. Contact Rhonda Rude at (608)789-4834 for information.

  • Plan a service project for your group that benefits children in foster care such as collecting donated items (school supplies or care packages are some examples) or making items to donate such as blankets.  For more ideas or information on this contact Rhonda Rude at (608)789-4834.

  • Help provide Christmas gifts for children in foster care by participating in the Holiday For Goodness Sakes project through the La Crosse County Health Department.

  • Become a CASA for Kids Volunteer and advocate for children who have been victims of abuse or neglect.

  • Visit www.fostercaremonth.org for more ideas of ways you can “Change a Lifetime.”

  • If you are aware of a child in the community who is being abused or neglected, immediately report your concerns to La Crosse County Child Protective Services.  Click here for more information on how to report abuse and neglect.


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