By Joe Bachman
They represent more than pinwheels — they represent lives.
Outside of the Wood County courthouse sits a display of numerous pinwheels to represent the number children placed in foster care in 2015 — 134. 110 kids in total were removed from their home last year; a number that has increased from 2014 where 87 were displaced from their homes.
According to Wood County Human Services foster care coordinator Julia Dauenhauer, the work in foster care often goes unnoticed.
“Foster parents are truly amazing — they’re really great people who do such an amazing job, every single day, and they keep coming back for more,” said Dauenhauer. “The different trauma that these children have gone through manifests itself in so many different behaviors and needs, and it’s really a selfless act of love, caring and giving.”
Licensed foster parents provide care for children who cannot live with their parents because they are unsafe, have special care or treatment needs, or other circumstances. Foster care is usually temporary, and is intended to give time to the family to make the necessary changes to provide a safe environment for their children to come back to.
In the state of Wisconsin, over 5,100 families are current licensed foster care parents with an average 7,000 children placed with them. Foster care can last anywhere from a few days to a few years.
“Before I started working in this field, most of my friends and family had no idea about what daily life was like for these foster kids, and I think they’re frequently blown away when I tell them stories of the things I’ve seen or experienced,” said Dauenhauer. “It’s definitely an underrated profession.”
Becoming a foster parent is easy, and one simply has to be 21 years of age or older, and is a responsible adult. A new foster parent would receive a monthly stipend to help cover living costs of the child, as well as work with a social worker through monthly visits.
For more information on this program or how to become a foster parent please call 715-421-8600.