I know in my April article I said, “stay tuned next month.” So, this is a month overdue. However, May is Foster Care Appreciation Month, and I wanted to ensure the community was aware! Thank you for your patience. Now, what to expect when you are expecting right?! No, not your own baby but in preparation of someone else’s child! This month will discuss what to expect during your foster care licensing home visits.

So, you have attended an info session, completed your application, got your fingerprints taken, your background check complete, you have had an initial walkthrough of your home, and graduated from Foundations training. Now what? It’s time for the licensing home visits portion of the process so your home study can be written! How exciting! The first thing you might ask is, how many visits can I expect? An applicant can expect to have three to four home visits during the licensing process, sometimes up to six depending on the information that needs to be obtained. It is important to note that the licensing specialist working with you will need forms and interviews completed by everyone in your immediate family as all of you will be experiencing the foster care program. So, if you are a household of six people and have grown children, it might take more than three visits to complete your home study as everyone is interviewed.

During your first home visit, a licensing specialist will bring a binder with the foster parent handbook in it, as well as a folder of “homework” for you to complete. The licensing specialist will read through the handbook with you and answer any questions you might have. They will then go through the paperwork they will leave for you to complete. The homework will consist of required licensing forms and a questionnaire that will need to be completed by those wishing to become licensed. At the end of the first visit, the licensing specialist will schedule with you the second visit.

During the second visit, the licensing specialist will go through a checklist and collect the forms that they left for you to complete. They will check the paperwork over with you and ask you questions if there are any, as well as answer any questions you might have too. During the second visit, the licensing specialist will begin interviewing you and your family. The interview process usually takes from the second to last visit to complete. The interview questions will be personal and dig deep into who you are, where you come from, and what your life has been up to this point, including why you wish to become a foster provider. As there is a lot of information to collect from you regarding your history, a licensing specialist tries to keep the interview sessions two hours long. At a good breakpoint, the licensing specialist will conclude the second visit and schedule a third.

During the third visit, the licensing specialist will inform you of how much more information will need to be collected and will proceed with where they left off with you during the last interview session. Usually, the third visit is the last visit. However, depending on how much information is yet to be obtained from interviews, another visit might be needed. If this is the final visit for you, the licensing specialist will finish the interview questions and provide you with another questionnaire that follow up from the one left with you during the first visit. The licensing specialist will explain that they will give you the questionnaire and wish for you to complete it right there in front of them and not ask any questions but answer all the questions to the best of your ability. Once complete, the questionnaire is immediately gone over and the licensing specialist will ask you questions based on your responses. If you are a couple, the questionnaire is given to both of you in front of the licensing specialist and both of you will return it immediately, however, the licensing specialist will interview you one on one, so will ask one of you to leave while they interview the other and then you will switch places so both applicants are privately interviewed by the licensing specialist. When that questionnaire and interview are completed the licensing specialist will conduct a final walkthrough of your home to conclude the visit. Your home should be prepared and in compliance with DCF Chapter 56 code and ready as if you could accept the placement of a child that day. If your home isn’t up to code, then the licensing specialist will schedule another visit.

After your final visit, the licensing specialist will explain that they now are able to write the home study. The home study can take a little bit of time to write as all the forms and information gathered are written out and explained. The time frame varies based on how large your family is and how quickly you meet with and finish everything with your licensing specialist. Once everything is written, all forms are obtained and your licensing home study file completed, the licensing specialist will provide the entire study to their supervisor to read and approve. Once they have read it, if correction is needed, the licensing specialist will correct what needs to be corrected and submit it again. Once the supervisor has approved the study, your study is passed to the Department Supervisor for final approval. Once final approval is granted, you become a Racine County Licensed Foster Parent and Home!

I hope that you have found this series informative and I welcome any questions you might have. Feel free to contact me, Jessica Scheeler at 262-638-6595 or shoot me an email at, jessica.scheeler@racinecounty.com . Yes, I’m still working and still accepting applications. Our business operations have just moved to a virtual platform. If you are interested in learning more, you can watch a taped Information Session. Email me for the link. Make sure to catch our article next month to learn about what happens after licensing!