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Prospective Foster Families

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Foster Parent Pre-placement Training

Please print off a certificate of completion for each module/section you complete and forward copies to Foster Care Coordinator per link below.  Completion of this training is required as part of the Wisconsin Foster Home License requirements in DCF 56.

 Wisconsin Chaper DCF 56

Licensing Process

Step 1

When you express interest in becoming a foster parent, you will be sent a welcome packet of information. Since deciding whether to foster children is an important decision for the whole family, the packet contains general information regarding what fostering entails. If, after evaluating and discussing the information with your family, you still wish to continue to pursue licensing, you should:

  • Complete the required online pre-placement training course (link is in the packet)

  • Complete and return the Foster Parent Applicant Profile

  • Call and make an appointment with the Foster Care Coordinator whose name and number is in the packet, to discuss your plan to pursue fostering.

The entire process usually takes 3 to 6 months, but may go longer depending upon how quickly documents are completed and returned.

Step 2

After returning the Foster Parent Profile and completing the pre-placement training, you will receive packet number 2 containing a large amount of paperwork. Some of the forms are for the individual adults in the home, but there are additional forms for each of the children and/or other adults living in the home.  At this time you will be asked to:

  • Complete the SAFE Questionnaires required by Department of Children and Families.  The Structured Analysis Family Evaluation (SAFE) is a home study methodology that provides comprehensive home study tools and practices for the description and evaluation of would-be adoptive families.

  • Set up and receive medical exams from your provider for all household members

  • Provide the agency with a signed authorization form to conduct background checks for you and any other person in your household over the age of 12.  Once this information is returned, the Foster Care Coordinator can begin the background checks from jurisdictions you have lived in during the past five years. The background checks ensure there is no criminal activity related to license denial or revocations.

  • Arrange with Portage County Sherriff Department for you and your spouse/partner living in the household to be finger printed for a national FBI/Adam Walsh criminal background check.

During this time, the Foster Care Coordinator will send out cover letters and questionnaires to obtain personal references from the five individuals you provided to the agency in your application.  

Step 3

After the Foster Care Coordinator receives your completed background forms and the SAFE questionnaire, she will phone you to set up an interview to answer questions, go over required paperwork, review physical requirements of the foster home and begin the home study. During this time you should:

  • Review and provide a signed copy of DCF-56 Licensing Checklist

  • Provide copies of:

    • Home insurance

    • Report cards for all children in the home

    • Auto insurance

    • Layout of the foster home

    • A disaster plan as describe in DCF-56 

    • Fire safety inspection if requested

    • Private water report if requested

    • Animal vaccination verification if applicable

    • Armed services discharge record if applicable

    • Tribal enrollment documentation if applicable

  • Participate in the SAFE home study

    • The SAFE home study assessment is a standardized home study developed by the Consortium for Children. The SAFE home study assists agencies in performing a thorough, structured, and uniform evaluation of families who have applied to become foster parents. The SAFE home study assists in identifying and addressing both strengths and areas of concern and is required for licensing in the state of Wisconsin.

    • The SAFE home study assessment includes additional questionnaires and interviews.  All interviews must occur in the applicants’ homes. Interviews are conducted with the family jointly and with each individual separately.

    • At the conclusion of the assessment, the foster care coordinator will issue or deny a foster care license and submit a SAFE home study narrative to the state supporting the approval or denial based upon all the previously gathered information, conversations, home visits, and safety and statutory requirements.

    • Although the SAFE home study narrative is the agency’s conclusions of all the gathered information, the applicant is provided a copy of the narrative for their review, comments and signature.    

    • A foster home license is effective for a period not to exceed 2 years and may be renewed upon successful completion of relicensing requirements.

Although this seems like a daunting process, we take our responsibility to place children in safe and nurturing environments very seriously.  The process is not a race and families should take time to reflect on whether they are ready to accept the added responsibilities of fostering. While foster care is challenging, it is also very rewarding.  “Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the single candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” – Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai.  We look forward to working with you.

Additional Resources For Prospective Foster Parents

Is Fostering A Good Fit?

Helping Youth and Children In Care

Home Study Requirements

Making A Positive Difference

Promoting Normalcy: Reasnoable and Prudent Parent Standard FAQ

Promoting Normalcy: Applying the Reasonable and Prudent Parent Standard

Preparing Your Kids For Fostering

While You Wait