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Foster care programs in La Crosse, ‘a system in crisis’



Wisconsin budget allots just 10% of what county actually needs 

A task force on foster care in Wisconsin heard La Crosse’s program is “a system in crisis.”

Foster care services for kids and families might be more effective in Wisconsin if local communities could get more money to provide those services.

La Crosse County human resources director Jason Witt had that message for a bi-partisan state task force on foster care, which visited La Crosse last week.

“It does not honor our state-county partnership to expect more and more from workers,” Witt explained, “who serve children and support foster parents, but provide no additional resources and then expect the same results.”

Witt says spending to help La Crosse County foster children has gone up 73 percent in the last five years but nothing has changed for most of those programs in the state in a long time.

“For the balance of the state, again, we’ve had funding pretty much stangant since the turn of the century,” Witt said. “We don’t have regularly adjustments in state funds when our out of home care populations go up or down. So, we haven’t seen an increase even though we’ve had these surge in needs.”

La Crosse County needs about $1 million more in 2018 to meet the growing local demand for foster care. The new state budget, however, only gives the county about $100,000, Witt pointed out.

He sees funding being increased for large areas like Milwaukee but the rest of the state doesn’t experience hikes in funding.

“The Wisconsin County Human Services Association has called the needs that we faced, nothing short of unprecendented,” Witt said. “Wisconsin Dept. of Children and Familes have talked about how we’re struggling to identify and recruit enough foster homes to meet increasing needs.”




A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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