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Wisconsin Foster Parents Play Critical Role

A new report confirms kids need a strong and consistent relationship with a reliable adult. (Wavebreak media/iStockphoto)
A new report confirms kids need a strong and consistent relationship with a reliable adult. (Wavebreak media/iStockphoto)
November 17, 2016

MILWAUKEE – A new report from The Annie E. Casey Foundation says it's critical for children who have had chaotic childhoods to have at least one strong and consistent relationship with a reliable adult.

The report also points to an urgent need for more foster parents.

"There's nothing better than working with a child, helping them grow and heal and then, seeing their families grow and heal at the same time, and assisting that child to return to that family safely and in a secure and stable manner," says Denise Goodman, a child welfare consultant who concurs with the findings.

Oriana Carey, CEO of the Coalition for Children Youth and Families in Milwaukee, agrees there is a huge need for foster parents. She says those who are already doing it are the keys to finding more caregivers.

"We know that other foster parents are really the best recruiters of foster parents,” she adds. “People need to see somebody that's like them, that's doing it, that's doing it well, that they feel like they can embrace that."

The report stresses the need for ensuring high quality care for foster children, for foster parents to form strong relationships with children, and to identify and recruit more foster families.

Goodman says children's behavior entering foster care is sometimes unpredictable, which is understandable after being removed from their home.

"A family that they've never met before has to have the skills and abilities to engage a child who they don't know, who's likely to be experiencing a very difficult time,” she stresses. “Particularly those first several days are crucial and require very committed foster parents."

Carey says a common misconception is that every foster child has come from a home with horrible parents when the reality is that parents almost never deliberately mistreat their children.

"They don't purposely, intentionally try to do those things, is what we know,” she states. “We just know that there's a lot of things that get in the way.

“But I think often, people hear some of the most challenging, scary stories, and they think that that's the majority of what we have going on."

Carey says people can learn a lot about how foster care works in Wisconsin online at fosterparentsrock.org.

The Casey Foundation report says child welfare agencies have to treat foster parents as full allies in everything the agencies do.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI