‘Relative Caregivers Day’

LA CROSSE, WIS.–On any average day, the Wisconsin department of children and families reports roughly 8,000 children are living with foster families.

La Crosse has seen a drop in recent years with the number of children being placed into foster care. That’s thanks in part to the members of the county’s Relative Caregiver Program.


Mayor Harter proclaimed today ‘Relative Caregivers Day’. It’s a special day giving those caregivers, the grandparents, uncles, aunts and other family relatives some well-deserved recognition for caring for childen while their parents work through the issues that led to the removal in the first place.

These caregivers sacrifice a lot both financially and in their personal lives. So, setting a side a day to say “thank you” was the least the program could do.

“It’s nice to be recognized,”said Lila Barlow, relative outreach worker, La Crosse County. “I don’t think we do it enough and taking a day is us saying we appreciate it. We know how hard it is and we need to do more and we need to get it out there that this is what’s best for children.”

Barlow says kids feel more comfortable with family members instead of foster care and the parents feel better when they know their child is with another family member instead of a stranger.

The caregivers benefit too. Tracy Trussoni has six kids of her own and she’s a caregiver to another four. As hard as it is sometimes, she says it’s all worth it for what she receives in return.

“For relatives, any family out there to know that it could happen at any point where someone in their family may be taken out of the home and if they’re willing to be open to that, taking them in, the sacrifices that you’re going to make but also the benefits of that is tremendous,” Trussoni said.

Back in 2008 when the program began only about ten-percent of children were living with relative family members.Today, that number has almost quadrupled.

Today is also the third anniversary of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act. The act requires the state to provide notices to relatives whenever children are removed from their parents.