What is the difference between treatment foster care and regular (or county) foster care?

Children and teens in treatment foster care often have more significant emotional and behavioral needs than children placed in “regular” or county level foster care. Because of this, our social workers provide additional support and resources to the treatment foster parents. In addition, county agencies may contact Family Works if they do not have an appropriate home available, such as when making an effort to keep a group of siblings together. Treatment foster care is meant to be a temporary situation where children are placed in safe and stable homes until a more permanent arrangement can be made.

What is treatment?

Treatment is a set of principles that guide our daily interactions with the child, the child’s family and the treatment team. Our treatment principles include an understanding of trauma-informed care, respect, perseverance, consistency, a focus on teaching, and strong positive relationships.

Do I need to be married to become a treatment foster parent?

Our foster families come in many different shapes and sizes! You can be single, coupled but not married, divorced or married. Anyone in the home who has a parenting role (i.e. spouse or partner) must become licensed.

Do I need to own my own home to become a treatment foster parent?

Foster families can be homeowners or renters. Foster children are able to share a room, however, they must have their own bed.

Do I need parenting experience to become a treatment foster parent?

Treatment foster parents are required to have experience parenting OR working with children. You do not necessarily need to have previous parenting experience. In addition, through providing respite care for other foster families, you can obtain the needed experience during the licensing process.

Am I required to stay home full-time to be a treatment foster parent?

Many foster parents work full-time. You must have a flexible enough schedule to be available to meet the needs of the foster child. This may require time off work for meetings, appointments or court hearings. Our agency does not require you to be a stay at home parent.

I have a criminal history. Can I still become a treatment foster parent?

Being convicted of certain crimes may prevent you from becoming a treatment foster parent. A licensing specialist will work with you on your specific situation. All criminal and CPS histories are carefully reviewed during the licensing process, an imperfect history does not automatically ban you from opening your home to a child.

What are the steps involved in becoming licensed?

Potential foster parents fill out an application, complete interviews with our licensing specialists, prepare their home to meet state guidelines, complete criminal background checks and health examinations, and complete 36-40 hours of pre-placement training provided by the agency.

Do treatment foster parents need to do anything to maintain their license?

Treatment foster parents are required to complete 24 hours of training each year. Family Works provides ample opportunity to obtain this training, however, conferences and webinars are also a good way to meet this requirement. Treatment foster parents are also evaluated each year by agency staff, which includes ensuring that the foster home remains safe and up to state standards. Treatment foster care licenses are renewed every two years.

What is expected of treatment foster parents?

In addition to the normal responsibilities associated with parenting, treatment foster parents need to have a good understanding of trauma-informed care, or show a willingness to learn, in order to best meet the emotional and behavioral needs of the child(ren) in their home. This includes being involved in all aspects of the child’s life in order to facilitate their social and emotional development. Treatment foster parents are essential members of the child’s treatment team and are crucial to helping the child reach their goals.

How much supervision are treatment foster parents expected to provide?

Generally speaking, the children and teens we support require very close monitoring and supervision. Because of their past, they often need guidance in making positive decisions on a daily basis. Supervision expectations are decided on with the treatment team and are outlined in the child’s treatment plan. Supervision expectations may include: line of sight, in ear shot, or not being alone with other children/pets.

Are there rules that treatment foster parents are expected to follow? What happens if those rules are not followed?

Foster care is governed by Wisconsin Administrative Code Ch. DCF 56. This set of rules guides treatment foster parents as well as treatment foster care agencies in the care of foster children. While treatment foster parents are expected to be able to follow this code, we help you learn and understand it. Foster families who violate this code may be unable to continue caring for foster children.

What is expected of Family Works?

Family Works provides the support and resources you need to be an effective treatment foster parent. A social worker is available to you 24 hours/day, 7 days/week and maintains regular contact with you through frequent visits and phone calls. We also provide monthly support and training meetings with foster parents and social workers, access to other training opportunities and connections with other treatment foster families and respite providers.

What types of children and teens are in treatment foster care?

Family Works serves children and teens ages 0-21. Most often, we serve children and teens between the ages of 10-16 that have experienced abuse and/or neglect. Due to this, they often have a variety of emotional and behavioral challenges. Some of these may include mental health issues, delinquency issues, disabilities, medical issues and alcohol/drug use. In addition, siblings may be placed in treatment foster care if no other options are available to keep them together. Children and teens in treatment foster care need a supportive and loving home to help them work through their trauma and to learn healthy ways to manage their emotions. Learn more about our kids.

How are foster children placed with treatment foster parents?

We review information on each child that is referred to our agency to determine if he/she may be a good fit with one of our treatment foster families. Several factors are considered, including the child’s age, gender, behavioral needs, and location. We then share the information with the treatment foster parents and begin exchanging questions and answers between the foster parents and the referring agency. Next, a pre-placement visit is arranged, which could be a short visit at a neutral location, a weekend overnight stay at the foster home and anything in between. If all parties agree that the child could be successful in the foster home, official placement plans are made through the court system.

Who is included in the child’s treatment team?

The child’s treatment team is comprised of the placing county worker, the Family Works social worker, the foster parent(s), the child, the child’s family, and any other professional working with the child. This may include a therapist, a psychiatrist, school personnel and respite providers.

How involved are treatment foster parents with the child’s parents/family?

It is in the child’s best interests for their parents and treatment foster parents to be supportive of one another and to work collaboratively. Treatment foster parents are expected to support the child’s relationship with their family and help facilitate contact when appropriate. There are many reasons a child may be removed from a family’s home and when this happens, there is bound to be some adversity. The best and most effective way to overcome this is to form a partnership with the child’s family and help support their efforts.

How long do children typically stay in treatment foster homes?

Treatment foster care is meant to be a temporary situation where children are placed in safe and stable homes until a more permanent arrangement can be made. Our goal is for children to reach permanence. Permanence means the child is reunified with his or her family, adopted or someone has obtained guardianship of them. In some cases, the treatment foster parents are able to adopt or obtain guardianship of the child. Depending on the child’s permanence goal, the child may be in your home a few months or in rare cases, several years. The average length of stay is between 6-9 months.

Are treatment foster parents able to adopt children out of foster care?

This is a possibility when a child’s permanency plan is adoption. If a treatment foster family has expressed a desire to be an adoptive resource for the child, the child’s team may decide to pursue this option. Children must live with the foster family for at least six months before an adoption can occur.

Can we continue contact with the child once they leave our home?

In many cases, treatment foster parents are encouraged to maintain contact with children that were previously in their care, and continue to be a support to that child. Separation from caregivers can be particularly difficult for a child and so we attempt to minimize those effects whenever possible. When a child is reunified with his or her family, it is up to the family how involved a foster parent can be. In many cases, the child’s family and foster parents have formed a supportive relationship that encourages contact between the child and their previous foster family.

How are treatment foster parents compensated?

Each child’s needs and strengths are assessed by the state or county agency to determine the amount a foster parent is compensated for their time and expenditures. Treatment foster parents use this stipend for the care of the child; including food, shelter, clothing and other daily living expenses. This reimbursement amount may change during the duration of the child’s stay in foster care, depending on the child’s needs. All foster parents are expected to be able to meet their family’s needs without the addition of the stipend. The child’s medical needs (doctor, dentist, eye doctor) and psychological services are covered through Medical Assistance.

Ready to get started? Contact a licensing specialist:


Southern Wisconsin:

Nicole Ruder
Phone: (608) 233-9204 ext.224

Northern Wisconsin:

Kathi Kesan
Phone: (715) 532-3281

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