FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Below are frequently asked questions about becoming licensed to provide child foster care in Minnesota. If you have additional questions, MN ADOPT is here to help! MN ADOPT staff can be reached at 612-861-7115 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Making the decision to move forward with becoming licensed to provide foster care is often accompanied by lots of questions! MN ADOPT has created a short document that helps lay out these steps. (Next Steps)
We also encourage you to contact us directly at 612-861-7115 or email@example.com
Generally, it does not cost anything for becoming licensed to provide foster care in Minnesota. However, everyone in the home 13 and older will need to complete a background study, which has a nominal fee for each person. In addition, there are items you may need to purchase or services you may need to procure. Some examples are: update smoke and carbon monoxide detectors or fire extinguisher, have the furnace serviced or minor repairs to your home. If you are completing your child foster care license to specifically care for a relative or kin, you may be able to receive financial assistance from the county, tribal community or agency for costs associated with licensing, if they occur.
The licensing timeline can vary, and may be dependent on some of the following factors:
- When the foster care orientation and other training are available;
- Your speed in determining which agency you would like to work with;
- Background checks; clearance can take longer if you have lived in another state, or if you have a criminal history;
- Your speed in completing the application paperwork and meeting foster care requirements;
- How long it takes for your chosen agency to assign a licensing worker;
- Your ability to meet with your licensing worker during business hours;
- Family openness to the needs of children in foster care. Those who are open to sibling groups, older children and children with higher needs may experience a shorter wait.
- DHS has set 120 days as the standard for the completion of a foster care license from the date an application is received. However, depending on your individual circumstances it may take longer.
Though there are infants and toddlers in foster care, there is a great need for foster families who can provide care for school-aged children (6-18 years).
Foster parents are as unique and diverse as any other family! The most important factor is the ability for parents to meet the needs of the children. Foster parents include:
- Parents of any age, with a minimum age requirement of 21;
- Single persons, married couples, and couples living together;
- Those who are currently parenting children or have children who are living independently;
- Families and individuals parenting children who were adopted;
- Families and individuals who have minimal or no parenting experience;
- Families and individuals of any self-identified gender or sexual orientation;
- Military families;
- Religious and non-religious families or individuals;
- Families and individuals with physical, medical or mental health challenges, provided they are being well managed;
- Families and individuals with varying financial resources;
- Families and individuals who speak a primary language other than English in their home;
- Families and individuals from many different ethnic, culture, and racial backgrounds.
You do not need to own a home to foster a child. Your home will have to meet licensing requirements. In certain circumstances, you may need a fire marshal inspection and/or approval from your landlord. Some examples include having space for a child (e.g. a room with a bed and dresser) and having a dining area large enough for the whole family. Click here for more information on licensing requirements: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/rules/?id=2960
Ensuring the safety of a child is the top priority when placing a child into a foster home. A finger-print based background study is required as a part of the licensing application. Any criminal record is reviewed by the licensing entity on an individual basis, with an important factor being when the incident occurred and the current situation of the family. It is important to be honest with your agency and worker about any criminal history that does exist, as failure to do so may lead to you being denied for foster care. To learn more about criminal barriers to foster care and adoption, please visit: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=245C.15
A home study is a written report required by Minnesota law for all licensed foster homes. It provides child welfare agencies and courts with the information necessary to determine the most appropriate placement for a child.
The following are important components of the home study process:
- Educate and prepare the prospective foster family about the foster care process;
- Ability for the licensing worker to better understand the family in order to best advocate for them throughout their process;
- Assess the suitability of the prospective foster family in being able to meet the needs of identified child(ren);
- To complete a social history and compile information about the prospective foster family to assist workers in identifying a child(ren) whose needs they can best meet
Although not specific only to the Minnesota Home Study process, this document will provide you additional insight and information into the process: https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/f_homstu.pdf#page=1&view=Introduction]
The home study process can vary greatly, depending on several factors, including how efficient you are in completing the required paperwork, training schedule, timeline to be assigned a worker, and your flexibility to meet with your worker during regular business hours. You should expect the home study process to take a minimum of four months from the time you submit an application with an agency.
Foster parents receive reimbursement for taking care of the children placed in their homes. Effective July 1, 2017, the Northstar Care for Children basic monthly payment for all three programs was increased by 15 percent, as follows:
- Ages birth to 5: from $525 to $650
- Ages 6 to 12: from $670 to $770
- Ages 13 and older: from $790 to $910
Some children qualify for additional payments based on the level of parenting needed. Children receive supplemental payments to cover the expenses of extra needs and the additional efforts caregivers provide to meet those needs. For additional information on the reimbursement payments, please review https://edocs.dhs.state.mn.us/lfserver/Public/DHS-6736-ENG.
Medical Assistance is a federally funded insurance program that is available to children who are in foster care. It overs medical and dental needs for foster children. Medical coverage and the needs of the child should be discussed with the placing worker prior to the child being placed in your home.
Other possible financial supports for foster children may include:
- Foster children up to age 5, are eligible for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). It is a food supplement program. Please contact your local health department.
- Medical Assistance
- Free/Reduced breakfast and lunch at school
- Clothing allowance in the first 60 days of the initial placement.
- Forgotten children’s fund for special purchases. The Forgotten Children’s Fund, provides up to $300 per child, one time, so foster families can purchase special items and services for children. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
- SELF fund for items related to independent living (work uniforms, driver’s ed., etc.)
- MN ADOPT’s supportive services, including: resource packed website, Education Program, HELP Program: www.mnadopt.org
Possible informational and emotional supports for children and families:
- North America Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) has information and support groups for youth and families. https://www.nacac.org/help/be-a-youth-advocate/
- Head Start promotes school readiness for children birth to five. Foster children are generally eligible for this program. https://www.acf.hhs.gov/ohs
- Early Learning Scholarship pays for high-quality child care and early education to help children get ready for school. https://education.mn.gov/MDE/fam/elsprog/elschol/
- Parent to parent support network
- Peer support to youth
- Family Activities
- Crisis Services
- Mental Health Services
- Helpline for foster, kinship, and adoptive families. https://www.mnadopt.org/help-prog/
- Pre-adoption training
- Training for foster, kinship, and adoptive families. https://www.mnadopt.org/education/
- Adoption information and referral. https://www.mnadopt.org/adoption-101/
- Foster care information and referral. https://www.mnadopt.org/general-fc-information/
- Post adoption search resources. https://www.mnadopt.org/search/
- Photography and video recruitment for children under State guardianship.
Please talk to your agency for additional resources that may be available for the age of children you have identified to serve.
It depends on the situation. If emergency placement of the child is needed or if you are providing shelter care, you would not be able to meet the child ahead of time. If you are providing respite care, it is common to meet the child and guardian or foster parent beforehand to assist with transition to and from respite care. For traditional foster care, when it is appropriate based on the age and needs of the child, a “meet and greet” or respite weekend may be arranged to see if the home is a good fit for the youth. It is important to keep in mind that children in foster care have experienced a great deal of loss, which often makes meeting prospective foster families a stressful and difficult experience.
The timeline between application and placement provides a great opportunity for families to educate themselves with training and experiences such as:
- Reading nonfiction and fiction books related to foster care and parenting;
- Attend online and live trainings: https://www.mnadopt.org/training/;
- Participate in support groups: https://www.mnadopt.org/support-groups/;
- Seek out opportunities to get to know other families who provide foster care;
- Talk to your licensing worker about other ways in which you can prepare, such as exploring becoming a respite provider, which would allow you to engage with other families and get first-hand experience caring for a child(ren) with varying needs.
- Documentary: ReMoved Part One & Part Two: https://removedfilm.myshopify.com/ The ReMoved Films have been created with the intent to bring light to the often-unknown subjects of Foster Care and Child Abuse/Neglect.
- A Day in the Life: Wayne & Peggy (Foster Care & Adoption Resource Center WI) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hA4jr54S8tc&feature=youtu.be
- A Day in the Life: Ethan & Erin (Foster Care & Adoption Resource Center WI) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mocA_mNlqMA&feature=youtu.be
- What It Takes to be a Foster Parent (Foster Care & Adoption Resource Center WI) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uowgJ4PSmXw&feature=youtu.be
Reunification is the ultimate goal for all foster children unless it is determined they are unable to return home and will remain in foster care or become eligible to be adopted. While reunification efforts are occurring, foster children will have visitation with their family which may take place at the county office, visitation center, or you may be asked to have them in your home. Visits may occur several times a week or as infrequently as monthly or quarterly; the children’s social worker will determine the frequency of the visits. Children may return home for an extended period of time on a “trial home visit”. Foster parents are frequently asked to wait to see if the visit is successful in the event the child needs to return to care. In addition, many children have important people in their lives they may want to maintain contact with. When appropriate, supporting these relationships can benefit the foster child. The county social worker will need to approve ongoing contact with these individuals.
Examples of ongoing relationships may include:
- Birth parents
- Extended birth family members
- Additional people considered important to the child
Siblings are the most commonly identified connection to be maintained, if the foster youth is unable to return home. Families should also expect that even if contact with family is not formally maintained, teens will often explore connections on their own through social media and other informal networks.
It is the process of permanency plan development for children who are placed out of the home of their parents. The social services agency actively works on two plans simultaneously: 1) making reasonable efforts for returning the child a family member and 2) identify an alternative permanency plan. The goals of concurrent permanency planning are to:
- achieve early permanency for children;
- decrease children’s length of stay in foster care and reduce the number of moves children experiences; and
- identify families who will work towards reunification and serve as permanent resources for children.
The social service agencies are required to follow established guidelines and protocols for concurrent planning, including relevant factors such as:
- age of the child and duration of out-of-home placement;
- prognosis for successful reunification with parents;
- availability of relatives and other concerned individuals to provide support or a permanent placement for the child; and
- special needs of the child and other factors affecting the child’s best interests.
- involvement of parents and full disclosure of their rights and responsibilities; goals of concurrent planning; support services available for families; permanency options; and the consequences of not complying with case plans.