Bipartisan effort hopes to remove barriers for Wisconsin foster parents

A bipartisan effort in Madison is hoping to improve Wisconsin’s foster care system.

State Representatives Steve Doyle and Jill Billings were in La Crosse Wednesday to announce a package of bills they’re calling “Foster Forward.”

The group of 13 proposals has a wide range of purposes, from trying to prevent kids from ending up in foster care to providing support for those who do — as well as foster parents.

“The system needs to work better,” said Doyle. “We need to pull down some of the barriers that make it difficult for foster parents to do their jobs, we need to provide some respite for those foster parents who say, ‘I need a weekend off every once and awhile,’ even something as simple as that.”

The bills were developed after lawmakers held hearings with foster parents across the state over the past six months.

Foster parents from the La Crosse area say they’re happy to see the state work to make the system more efficient and streamlined.

“It’s just an exciting thing to know that first of all, the process makes sense,” said Sarah Mumaw-Flury. “We’re not digging for an answer or trying to find out, well, we do it in this county this way, or I’ve had prior experience this way. We have an answer now that’s going to be statewide.”

Doyle says he hopes to see the proposals passed in the Assembly sometime in January.