Foster Care Licensing Process

Foster parents in the State of Wisconsin must be officially licensed. Throughout the licensing process, a Family Works licensing specialists will meet with you and guide you through this process to become licensed as a foster parent.

“What does the licensing process entail?”

This is a question we receive from many of our families.

The length of time it takes to become a licensed foster parent is largely dependent on completing necessary paperwork and a family’s readiness to move through the process. The journey could be a couple of months or even up to a year.


To begin, the Wisconsin Administrative code (Ch.DCF56) dictates some basic requirements for foster parents including:

  • 21 years of age or older
  • At least 5 years of parenting experience or working with children
  • Ability to pass background checks
  • A stable living environment
  • Financial ability to meet own needs
  • Time and ability to meet a child’s treatment needs

Beyond these set standards, our foster families consist of a wide-range of diverse family structures.

Each family has their own unique skills and abilities to meet the needs of youth in care. If you are interested in supporting foster youth but feel your family does not meet all the requirements above, another great place to start is by becoming a respite provider.

To begin the process, you can fill out our foster parent interest form, and one of our licensing specialists will reach out to you to answer questions and learn more about your family.

From there, the licensing specialist will schedule an initial home visit. During this visit, we learn more about your family and begin the paperwork process.

The paperwork

This paperwork includes an application, background checks, SAFE home study questionnaires, home safety check, insurance verification, physician report, and other Family Works questionnaires.

The SAFE home study model is used throughout the state of Wisconsin and involves a series of questionnaires and interviews. This process allows our licensing specialist to get to know you and learn how your family will support youth who come to your home.

Overall, the paperwork typically takes at least three visits to complete. During these visits, you’ll also have the opportunity to ask our licensing specialist questions, and we’ll determine that your home is safe and stable for meeting a child’s needs.

In between visits, you’ll also be asked to read about foster care policies, fill out paperwork, and complete some trainings to equip you with the tools needed to begin fostering. You’ll learn about the child welfare system, foster care, and parenting skills for youth in care. These trainings are also an opportunity to meet other foster parents and develop relationships with Family Works staff.

Foster parent training

All foster parents are required to complete 6 hours of online pre-placement training and 30 hours of in-person Foundations training. (Note: these trainings are currently being offered virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.) Pre-placement training provides an overview of foster care and the child welfare system. Foundations training provides a more in-depth look into being a foster parent and supporting a child’s treatment needs.

After the licensing requirements are completed, you will be issued a foster care license and assigned a Family Works social worker.

Your social worker will be a first point of contact and ongoing support to your family as you begin your fostering journey.

At Family Works, we pride ourselves on being responsive and supportive to our foster parents throughout every step of the fostering process. Our agency will work with your family to match children with your home, and from there, the adventure begins!

Contact us if you have any questions about the foster parent licensing process outlined above.