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Heidi's House: Inside Brown County's Foster Care Crisis

Inside Brown County's only group foster home
Posted at 4:59 PM, May 06, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-07 12:41:00-04

  • The foster care system in Brown County is approaching a breaking point.
  • Approximately 320 children are currently living outside their homes in Brown County and too few foster homes.
  • A look inside Brown County's only emergency foster shelter
  • A full list of resources with links to help

In Brown County, the foster care system is nearing a breaking point. Currently, there are around 320 children living outside of their homes in Brown County, with not nearly enough foster parents available to provide them with the care they desperately need.
May is foster care awareness month. This week, we’re giving you an inside look at the heart of this crisis, the sole group foster home in Brown County.

Welcome to Heidi’s House   

This is what emergency foster care looks like—a place of refuge, stability, and hope for children in crisis. Heidi Haroldson leads the charge at the Emergency Receiving Home for Brown County Child Protective Services.

On any given day, Heidi's hands are full. Over the past two years, Heidi has opened her doors to over a hundred children, offering safety and solace after children are removed from situations at times, of trauma, neglect or abuse.

“I take in cases where they need to have placement for a kid and it's just an emergency situation,” she says. “I'm kind of the in-between where the kid can be somewhere safe while everything gets sorted out.”

Shauna Escoto, Foster Care Supervisor for Brown County, acknowledges Heidi's dedication. Heidi's operates her emergency shelter around the clock, providing a lifeline for children without alternative placements, regardless of the hour.


Critical Need: Overwhelming Demand

Heidi's House is the only emergency shelter in Brown County. The demand for such facilities far outweighs the current capacity, with Shauna emphasizing the necessity for additional receiving homes to ensure every child receives the attention they deserve.

To maintain quality care, Heidi typically takes in no more than four children at a time, ensuring each child's unique needs are met promptly. From medical care to therapy and educational support, Heidi and her team strive to create an environment where children can heal and thrive.

The Call for Community Support

While Heidi is making an incredible impact on the lives of the children welcomed into her home, she cannot tackle the foster crisis alone.

Brown County is asking for the community’s help for more emergency shelters and foster families. As Shauna highlights, the need transcends perfection—what matters most is a willingness to make a difference in a child's life.

To those hesitant about stepping forward, Shauna offers this advice: “You are more capable thank you think you are. I think people feel like maybe you have to be perfect or you have to fit the mold. But you don’t. You can be single, you can be married, you can own a home, you can rent a home. If you feel like you want to help children then we want to talk to you.”

Resources to Help

The call for help is real. The foster system in Brown County is overwhelmed and the county is urging the community to come together and help to provide every child with the care and support they deserve.



How to Become a Foster Family in Wisconsin

The Foster Parent Handbook PDF

Brown County Foster Resource Manual 

Brown County Foster Parenting Information Sessions

How to Get a Foster Care License in Wisconsin

Support for Foster Parents

or email Brown County: