A discussion about common questions and myths about foster care with a Supervisor in Brown County Child Protection Services

What types of people/families make good foster parents?
We are looking for people with emotional maturity who are able to provide a nurturing environment, as well as set limits for the children. Having a high tolerance for children with emotional and behavioral struggles is helpful as well.

Our foster parents work closely with our unit (Foster Care) and once a child is placed with them they will have an assigned social worker. So working with and being part of a team is helpful. It is an expectation that foster parents work with birth parents.

People that enjoy parenting and who are looking to improve the life of children are usually a good fit!

Are there any special qualifications, education or training required to become a foster parent?
Foster parents must complete six hours of online pre-placement training. Then, over the course of the next two years, they have to complete 30 hours of foundation training. This training is truly amazing and they have two years to complete it so it’s very manageable for most people.

Their assigned social worker will also provide any individualized education they may need depending on the particular needs of the child in their home.

Can single people foster?
ABSOLUTELY! We have many successful single foster parents.

Is it expensive to be a foster parent?
No, the family is provided with a monthly reimbursement based on the needs of the child. (Children with more needs usually require more attention, so payments to the foster parents reflect those needs.) The ongoing payments are to help purchase food, clothes and miscellaneous items. And when a child is first placed with a family they are given a clothing allowance to start the child off with a wardrobe. Sometime unexpected costs come up and in those cases we work with the foster families to find the needed funds.

Do foster kids usually have significant issues?
All of the children that come into foster care have experienced some type of trauma. The only reason a child is placed in foster care is because it is no longer safe for them to remain in their home. This may be due to abuse or neglect or if a parent is unavailable or unwilling to provide care to their child.

Removing a child from their home is a very traumatic situation and we only do this when there are no other alternatives. We take children away from everything they know and basically place them with strangers. This is extremely difficult for the child. Regardless of what a parent has done, children desire to be with their parents. Many of the children coming into foster care are fearful and do not trust. It’s important that foster parents give children time to adjust to their new environment. Many of our children come from homes where there is constant chaos and they may struggle to function in a stable environment. Having patience is very important.

When we do have children with significant issues (whether behavioral or medical) we discuss this with the foster parents up front. While we can never really completely understand the trauma a child has experienced, we try to give the foster parents as much information as possible.

With teens, they are often used to being self-sufficient or even being the main care provider in the family. Sometimes it is difficult for them to learn they are a child and don’t have to act like an adult. Teens may run or be dramatic and untrusting. All of the children that come into care—just like children everywhere—need patience, love and stability.

How long do foster kids stay with their foster families?
This varies. Generally, prior to a child entering a foster home, we have searched for a relative to provide care. But sometimes a relative becomes available after placement and a stay is quite short. Overall a child could be in a placement for one night to several years. This is something that is always discussed with the foster family. We try to plan as much as possible but sometimes unforeseen things happen. Sometimes foster parents decide they need to end the placement. We try to work with the family to maintain the placement but if this is not possible, we assist in finding another appropriate home. We usually try very hard to maintain placements because further moves to a child can be damaging.

What is the most common reason for deciding to foster?
Most people come to us and say they want to help. Sometimes they know someone who is a foster parent or they may know a child that is in foster care. It always starts with a desire to improve the life of a child. And this is a great motive!