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Mom and a Child

Foster Care & Respite Homes

What is Foster Care?


Foster care is 24-hour care provided by licensed foster parents for children who cannot live with their parents because they are unsafe, have special care or treatment needs, or other circumstances exist where parents or family are unable to care for them. Generally, placement in foster care is temporary and intended to give the child's family time to make necessary changes so that the child can live safely in his or her home and community. Most children in foster care return home to their families. When children cannot return home, they find permanence through placement with relatives, adoption, or other means.


Make the Difference in the life of a child…Become a Foster Parent!

Eligibility Requirements:
To become a foster parent, you must meet all of the following:

  • Be 21 years of age of older

  • Complete an application and home study/licensing process

  • Complete and pass a criminal background check for applicants and all adult household members

  • Be free of physical or mental conditions that would interfere with providing care for a foster child

  • Have a stable income sufficient to meet the foster family’s obligations

  • Have valid driver’s license and vehicle liability insurance coverage

  • Have homeowner’s or renter’s liability insurance

  • Your home must meet all of the physical environment requirements

  • Cooperate with the agency and be willing and able to work with and respect the child's biological family

  • Complete foster home licensing requirements as listed in Wisconsin Administrative Code Chapter DCF 56

Clark County Department
of Social Services 
517 Court St. 
Room 502 
Neillsville, WI 54456 
Monday - Friday
8 AM - 4:30 PM

Ph: (715) 743-5233
Fx: (715) 743-5242
Toll Free: (866) 743-5233
Emergency After Hours
Sheriff's Office:
(715) 743-3157
After Hours No Heat Hotline:
(715) 743-3157

More Questions?

Check out these additional resources


 Wisconsin Foster Care and Adoption Resource Center


Wisconsin Department of Children and Families


DCF 56, Foster Care Licensing Rules and Regulations


Wisconsin Foster and Adoptive Parent Association


Foster Parent Handbook

Licensing Process:

1.    Initial Inquiry
Begin the licensing process by contacting the Foster Care Coordinator at Clark County Department of Social Services @ 715.743.5233 or 1.866.743.5233.

2.    Complete an application packet
The application packet consists of the following forms:
    o    Application and References
    o    Criminal background check forms
    o    Questionnaire

Additional required forms include:
    o    DCF 56 Child Foster Care Licensing Checklist
    o    Health Assessment forms
    o    Firearms and Other Dangerous Weapons form
    o    Fire Safety Inspection and Well water testing
    o    Fire Evacuation and Floor Plan
    o    Disaster Plan
    o    Home and Auto Insurance Verification forms
    o    Notice of Confidentiality
    o    Verification of pet vaccinations (if applicable)


3.    Complete the foster care home study

A social worker will meet with you in your home to complete the foster care home study. The study process consists of several questionnaires and a series of face to face personal interviews with each applicant and some additional time with each child and/or household member.


The social worker who studies your home is interested in learning the strengths and limitations of your family as well as your family dynamics and relationships. The home study process will be an in-depth assessment and cover a number of areas including but not limited to applicants’ history, marital/domestic partner relationships, and parenting practices and/or expectations. Based on the results of the assessment, the social worker will make a recommendation about foster care licensure and will identify any training or other needs that should be met by the family prior to licensure.

The home study process also gives you and your family a chance to ask any questions, talk about any concerns you may have, and discuss how fostering might impact you and your family members.


4.    Training Requirements
Each foster parent is required to complete training in relation to their Level of Care certification. Training Requirements fall into three categories:

   *Pre Placement: Six-hour online training to be complete prior to the placement of the first child in a family's home.
   *Initial/Foundation: Thirty hours to be completed within initial licensing period (first two years of licensure).
   *Ongoing: Ten hours to be completed every year of a foster parent license after the initial licensing period.

The time to complete the entire home study and licensing process varies depending on how quickly forms are completed, items are documented, and the availability of scheduled appointments. You can begin to take children in your home when your license and pre-placement training is complete. Licenses can be issued for a period up to two years and then must be renewed.


Foster Parent Responsibilities:
Foster parents play a central and valuable role in the child welfare system. Their primary task is to provide temporary care that is nurturing and supportive until plans can be made for the child's permanent living arrangement.  In addition, foster parents are expected to:

  • Comply with Departmental requirements

  • Meet foster home licensing standards DCF - Foster Home Care for Children

  • Communicate any important information about the child to the social worker and/or birth parent

  • Work in partnership with birth families, including extended relatives and the Department to support the child during difficult times.

For more information about the role of foster parents, please see the Foster Parent Handbook.


What is a Respite Home?
A respite home provides short-term care to a child or children who are in ongoing foster care. This service provides the ongoing foster care family with a break and/or assistance during planned or emergency absences. A certification process and several documents, including a Criminal Background Check, are required for those interested in becoming a respite care provider for the Child Foster Care program.


Other Ways to Help Children in Foster Care
We understand that not everyone is ready to become a foster parent, but there are many other ways that you, your business, church or service organization can help children in foster care and foster parents in your community.

  • Provide overnight or weekend respite care to give foster parents a break from their responsibilities. To learn more about becoming a respite provider, email or call Clark County Foster Care Coordinator at (715)743-5233.

  • Help recruit people you believe would make good foster parents. Refer them to our website and/or encourage them to contact us at 715.743.5233 for more information.

  • Consider having your business donate door prizes to be used at various foster care appreciation events throughout the year. Contact Clark County Foster Care Coordinator for information.

  • Plan a service project for your group that benefits children in foster care such as collecting donated items (school supplies or care packages are some examples) or making items to donate, such as blankets. For more ideas or information on this contact Clark County Foster Care Coordinator

  • There are so many ways to help children—maybe you have your own unique ideas to help kids in your area. Your one (or several!) act of kindness may change children’s lives and give them hope they may not have had before. Any form of reaching out and supporting a youth in care makes a tremendous impact.

Fostering a child or children who cannot safely live with parents or other family members is a challenging but
rewarding job. To learn about becoming a foster parent, respite home or other ways you can help children in need, please contact Clark County Department of Social Services Foster Care Coordinator @ 715-743-5233 or 1-866-743-5233.


Clark County Foster Care Brochure


Kinship Care

What is Kinship Care?

Kinship Care is a program to help support a child who lives outside of his or her home with the relative.   The child may be living temporarily or for the long term with a relative such as: An adult brother or sister, a first cousin, a nephew or niece, an uncle or aunt or a grandparent, or others by blood or marriage (see Ch. DCF 58.03(18) Administrative code for the definition of Relative).

Kinship care helps a family support a child in the home of a relative that might be under stress or when the child has experienced abuse or neglect. With this support, placing a child in a foster home or another out-of-home care setting may be avoided. For children in the child welfare system who cannot continue living at home with his or her parents, Kinship Care may be another placement option.

For more information about the Kinship Care Program visit the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families website.

To access the Kinship Care Application, contact Clark County Department of Social Services at (715)743-5233 or 1-866-743-5233

24 Hour Mental Health and AODA Crisis Line (800) 863-3560 or (715) 743-3400

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