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By Jessica Scheeler

As Julie Andrews would advise, let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start! Most folks have an idea already about this topic, but I think it’s an important starting point to define and explain what foster care is and what it looks like here in Racine County.

First, foster care, or out of home placement, defined by, is “…a temporary service provided by States for children who cannot live with their families. Children in foster care may live with relatives or with unrelated foster parents. Foster care can also refer to placement settings such as group homes, residential care facilities, emergency shelters, and supervised independent living.” Children come into the foster care system for various reasons, some of which include that their family or home is currently unsafe, the child might have special needs that their family isn’t able to provide care for and/or other circumstances that prevent their parents from currently providing care for them. Placing children into foster care allows their families to make the necessary changes so that they can be reunified.

Reunification is the primary goal of foster care, however, when children are unable to reunify with their family another form of permanency is established, either as adoption, guardianship or other means. In Racine County, when children need a foster placement, we seek out appropriate and safe relatives and/or licensed foster parents. Racine County licenses Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 homes.

Levels of care indicate the type of license one has. A Level 1 license is a relative or kin-like person, Level 2 is a general person, meaning anyone in the community who becomes a foster parent and finally, Level 3 is treatment, meaning these folks have gone through specific training and are willing to accept children who have a high level of care need.

Racine currently has 191 children in foster care and 99 licensed homes. Foster care is an essential part of our community as it truly does take a village to ensure the success of all people. An inclusive foster care program that works with the entire family ensures that those families can be reunited, which is Racine County’s focus and practice. Foster care helps strengthen families and communities.

As this series continues, you will learn the ins and outs of what foster care is and what it takes to become a foster parent, as well as, what you could expect as a provider. If you are interested in learning more, you are always welcomed to attend a Racine County Information Session, held on the 3rd Wednesday of every month from 5:30-7 p.m. at 1717 Taylor Ave 53403, Classroom D or every 3 rd Saturday of the month from 10-11:30 a.m. at 201 S. Kendrick Ave Burlington, WI 53105. To sign up for an Informational Session or to learn more about foster care, Contact Racine County Foster Care at 262-638-6595.

Make sure to catch our article next month to learn what Racine County’s current needs are and how you can help!