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Foster Care Licensing

You don’t have to be perfect to be a foster parent!

At Southwest Health & Human Services, we need foster parents of all ethnic backgrounds to open their hearts and homes to children with difficulties within their families. This includes children of all ages, but particularly older children and sibling groups. Foster families who reflect the diversity of our children in foster care are needed.

We’re looking for foster parents who can:

  • Take time to listen and talk with children as they work through problems
  • Offer patience and understanding without judging children or their families
  • Recognize that everyone comes from different backgrounds and different value systems
  • Offer safety, security, and guidelines and provide a family and home environment to children in crisis.
Foster parent training, adoption, kinship, opportunity, children

Foster families provide the love, nurturing, structure, and guidance that make a profound difference in the lives of children. They commit to children and their families to create lifelong relationships.

  • Foster parents nurture and care for children. Due to circumstances within their families of origin, some children may have special needs, such as emotional, psychological, physical difficulties, or developmental delays.
  • Foster parents support reunification efforts and help develop a positive relationship between birth parents and their children.
  • Foster parents may be asked to care for children for short periods of time to provide a respite to the child’s parents. Sometimes a long-term placement is needed. Occasionally children cannot be reunited with their families and may be available for adoption.
  • Foster parents may consider adopting children who cannot safely return to their parents.

On a daily basis, foster parents support foster children by:

  • Preparing family meals, helping with homework, tucking children in at bedtime, and comforting and listening to youth.
  • Guiding children who have often been traumatized.
  • Helping children by accepting the child’s experience in their birth families and helping them work through issues they may have with their parents and siblings.
  • Understanding that the goal for most children is to return to their birth parents.
happy kids flying kites

Is fostering for you?

Foster families are families who are willing to commit to caring for, loving, and nurturing children for a short time. These families provide temporary care to children whose parents cannot currently care for them. Foster families provide care until children can be safely reunified with their parents, or consider adoption when reunification is not an option.

All kinds of families can care for our children. Foster parents come from backgrounds as diverse as the children they care for. Some are married; some single; some own a home; some rent; some have children; some are grandparents. The characteristics these parents all have in common are their love for children, a willingness and ability to manage challenges, and a desire to make a difference in children’s lives.

Children who need foster families come from all racial and ethnic backgrounds and range in age from infants to teens. They may need short-term foster parents to help them and their families while they are going through some difficult times or long–term care. Some may need adoptive families. You can indicate your interest in determining which types of care you would prefer to provide. Options include emergency care, respite, interim, group family, special needs, and permanent. Regardless of the services you choose to offer, we need people who will be committed to helping the children no matter what their circumstances may be.

Contact the Licensing Dept at 507-532-1217 or email [email protected] to set up an appointment.  We will come to your home or meet at the SWHHS office to answer your questions, and explain the licensing process. You should be aware that a background search will be conducted on all family and household members ages 13 and older to ensure that we are placing children in a safe environment.   A home study will be conducted to see that your residence will meet standard guidelines for foster parent licensing. 

Additionally, we will request that you participate in pre-service training which will help to prepare you for successful foster parenting. Training is held through Foster Parent College.  SWHHS will register you (free of charge) for the classes. Trainings will focus on dealing with family systems, the impact of abuse and neglect, attachment and separation, cultural issues, discipline, permanency issues, and more.

Typically, you can expect it will take 3—6 months for you to become a licensed foster parent.  This is due to the time that will be required for preparation, training, and administrative activities which must take place prior to licensing.

We realize that support is critical, and we will be there for you.  Foster families are provided with training and support to help meet their needs.  Types of supports available include medical and dental coverage (for the children), financial assistance, liability insurance (provided by the state of MN at no cost to you), and other social services (counseling, family services, transportation, etc.) that may be necessary.  

In regard to financial assistance, you will be required to submit monthly vouchers indicating that you have cared for the child(ren) for the previous month.  Foster care payments are based on an hourly or a daily rate, depending upon the type of care you provide.  The amount may vary, depending upon the difficulty of care of the child(ren) in your home. 

Finally, you can be assured that you will not be alone.  You will be working with a team to care for the children, including social workers, therapists, court representatives, family members, school professionals,  and others who have an interest in the wellbeing of the children in your care.

Becoming a Foster Parent

A foster care license is a written authorization issued by the Commissioner of Human Services allowing the license holder to provide foster care services at a foster home for a specified time and in accordance with terms of the license and rules of the Commissioner of Human Services.

Child Foster Care

  • 1 Initial contact/call from the prospective provider
  • 2 Welcome packet is emailed/mailed to the prospective provider/home visit set up to review licensing process
  • 3 The prospective provider(s) are registered to attend Foster Parent College online training sessions
  • 4 When the Foster Parent College training is completed, the visits and paperwork will begin
  • 5 Application for foster care
  • 6 Background studies
  • 7 Home study
  • 8 Home Safety Checklist
  • 9 Additional paperwork
  • 10 Training – SUID (Sudden Unexpected Infant Death0, AHT (Abusive Head Trauma), 2 hour Mental Health Training, Normalcy training, FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) and Child Passenger Training
  • 11 Fire Marshall Inspection if needed
  • 12 Within 20 working days of the completion of all licensing requirements, a recommendation about licensure is sent to the Department of Human Services
  • 13 Licenses are issued and mailed by the State of Minnesota

Adult Foster Care

  • 1 Initial call from the prospective provider
  • 2 Welcome packet sent to the prospective provider
  • 3 Paperwork must be completed
  • 4 Application for foster care
  • 5 Background studies
  • 6 Licensing study
  • 7 Social history on the applicant
  • 8 Physician’s statement is needed
  • 9 Adult Foster Care Program Plan
  • 10 Additional paperwork
  • 11 Fire Marshal inspection is needed on all adult foster homes
  • 12 Training information
  • 13 Within 20 working days of the completion of all licensing requirements, a recommendation about licensure is sent to the Department of Human Services
  • 14 Licenses are issued and mailed by the State of Minnesota

We are Here to Help

We are always looking for more foster parents, as each foster parent brings a unique skill set needed to care for foster children. You may expect three or four appointments with licensing staff prior to licensure to complete the home safety checklist, conduct interviews for the home study, and complete the required policies, forms, and procedures. We, as licensors, are there to help you and your family through this process.

Have Questions or Need Help?

We are available to provide you with guidance and support.

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