- Purpose and Goals
- Foster Parent Licensing Requirements
- Foster Home Licensing Requirements
- Licensing Process
- Foster Care Costs and Reimbursement
- Substitute Caregivers
- Minnesota Child Foster Care Rules
For more information, please contact Jill Nettestad at firstname.lastname@example.org or (320) 968-5131 Please include your name, address and phone number.
The purpose of foster care is to provide a stable family setting to children when they are unable to remain with their own family. Care is given until the parents can resume their responsibility or until a permanent plan is made with relatives or adoptive parents. Children in foster care usually continue to visit their parents and family until they are reunited. The ultimate goal of foster care is to remedy the home situation and return the children to their natural parents. Sometimes foster families are asked to provide permanent foster care If reunification with a parent or relative is not possible.
Children can be in foster care for as little as 24 hours or up to a year or more.
Foster children can be placed in care any time during the day or night. Emergency foster families typically take children with very little notice and care for them until a relative or long-term placement can be found.
Respite is a short-term program that gives parents and foster parents a needed break from a challenging child. Respite providers go through the same licensing process as other foster care providers. Often times, respite providers are asked to make a commitment for one or two weekends a month for several months or for a week at a time.
Minnesota Statute requires that children in foster care under the age of eight have a permanent home within six months of their initial out-of-home placement. During this time, social services is working with the parents to help improve the conditions that led to the placement so that the children can return to a safe and stable home. Social services is also working on a second plan during this time in case the children are not able to return home. This plan may include searching for relatives or friends who would be willing to provide care for the children on a permanent basis. If this is not possible, foster families are asked to provide permanent foster care, accept a transfer of legal custody or adopt a child in their care.
Relative foster homes are licensed to provide care for a specific child or children with whom they already have a relationship. The provider does not specifically need to be a blood relative, but can be an important friend with whom the child has resided or had significant contact with.
Permanent Foster Care (also called Concurrent) are foster parents that are interested in providing a legal, permanent home for the child if the child can not return to the parents. Foster parents interested in adopting children in the foster care system fall under this category.
To Become a Foster Parent You Must:
- Be 21 years old or older
- Live in Benton County
- Complete an Application for Foster Care
- Submit to a criminal and social service background check and provide fingerprints
- Have appropriate sleeping space (at least two bedrooms in home)
- Live in a residence that meets fire and safety codes
- Have enough income to meet your own household needs
- Participate in a home study which includes interviews will all household members
- Attend on-going trainings after licensure- at least 12 hours per year
- Have child care experience of be willing to obtain training
- Have a reliable source of transportation
Day care and foster care licenses should not be started at the same time
To Become a Foster Parent You May:
- Be single or married
- Own a home or rent
- Live in an apartment, mobile/manufactured home, or town home
- Have children of your own, or have no children
Effective July 1, 2007; all Child Foster Care providers need to comply with the Adam Walsh Act. The Act was enacted July 27, 2006 to protect children from sexual exploitation and violent crimes. The new process for background checks will expand the national sex offender registry; increase background study requirements and strengthen federal penalties for crimes against children. The Department of Human Services will be processing all Child Foster Care background studies.
Persons who need a study include:
- Person(s) applying for a license
- Individuals 13 and over living in household (13-17 do not need to be fingerprinted)
- Individuals who are affiliated with a new or existing child foster care license
Both relative and non-relative providers are required to complete the background study.
After the fingerprints are complete the Licensing Team will send the information to the Department of Human Services for processing. Once study is complete the county and individual will receive notice. If you have a disqualification there is a process for re consideration.
For non-relative foster parents, six hours of training is required prior to licensure. Training includes attending an information meeting, watching videos, home safety inspections, review of emergency procedures, handouts on cultural diversity and gender sensitivity, review of the child foster care rules, and participating in family interviews. Relative foster parents are required to complete this training within 30 days of initial placement.
SIDS and Shaken Baby Syndrome training is also required if you intend to care for children under the age of 6. These trainings need to be a minimum of one-half hour in length and need to be repeated every five years.
Child Passenger Safety Class (car seat training) is also required prior to licensure if you will be caring for children under age 9. This training needs to be a minimum of one hour in length and needs to be repeated every five years.
First Aid and CPR training is not required for foster care, but is highly recommended.
After licensure, each person listed on the foster care license is required to complete twelve hours of training annually. No new foster care placements will be made until training requirements are met.
Effective August 1st, 2009, child foster care providers caring for children under the age of 6 are required to receive training on reducing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Training must be a minimum of one-half hour in length and be received at least once very five years. This training must be completed prior to having a child placed in your home. Certificates of completion are required. Child foster care providers are also required to receive training on reducing Shaken Baby Syndrome. Training on this topic must also be a minimum of one-half hour in length and be received at least once every five years.
Child Care Resources & Referral conducts these trainings in the St. Cloud area on a regular basis. Please contact them for more information on dates, times, and fees. Their number is 320-251-5081.
Training can also be done on-line at www.educarer.org .The cost for each training certificate is $13.00.
The foster care applicant must provide Benton County with the names of at least three references that will provide information about the license holder’s support system, interactions with children, and the ability to accept different points of view. Feedback from all three references needs to come back to Benton County before the license will be issued.
Prior to licensure, the foster home must be inspected by Benton County using the home safety checklist. The applicant must correct deficiencies in the foster home that were identified by the agency. Benton County may request a fire inspection be conducted if a possible safety concern is identified.
The applicant must provide a floor plan of the foster home showing emergency evacuation routes.
A fire inspection will be required if any of the following conditions exist:
- a freestanding solid fuel heating appliance is located in the home
- care is provided in a manufactured home
- the home is to be licensed for four or more foster children
- foster children will be sleeping in a bedroom that is 50% or more below ground level
- the home is a multiple occupancy dwelling such as an apartment or townhouse
- the home is a rental property (landlord permission is required)
Benton County may request a fire inspection due to rule or statute requirements or if additional safety concerns are noted.
Foster children are not allowed to sleep in unfinished areas of the home or in rooms not normally used for sleeping. Bedrooms used for foster children need to have two exits.
Foster children will need to be provided with a separate bed of an appropriate size. Siblings of the same sex may share a double bed.
Opposite sex siblings may share a bedroom, but each child needs his/her own bed.
Foster children and biological children of the same sex can share a bedroom, but each child needs his/her own bed.
Foster children are allowed to bring and accumulate personal possessions to the extent the home is able to accommodate them.
Foster children have identified space for clothing and personal possessions sufficient to accommodate their items and include cabinets, closets, shelved, or hanging space.
Pets in a family residence must be immunized and maintained as required by local ordinances and state law. Verification of immunizations will be required.
Foster homes serving children less than six years of age must not keep reptiles, chickens, or ducks as pets.
Foster homes serving children six years of age or older that keep reptiles, chickens, or ducks as pets must require a thorough hand washing following the handling of the animal, its food, and anything the animal has touched.
The dining are must be able to accommodate, at one time, all persons residing in the home.
Benton County hosts information meetings for persons interested in becoming licensed foster care providers. These meetings are typically held every other month, from 4:30 pm to 7:00 pm, at the Benton County Human Services building at 531 Dewey Street, Foley. Meetings are held in the 3rd floor conference room. Doors are locked promptly at 4:30 pm so please plan to arrive early for the meeting so that we may start on time. Registration is required.
During this meeting you will be given an overview of the child foster care rules, the licensing process, an explanation of how children enter the foster care system and the opportunity to ask questions. You will be given an application packet during this meeting, along with directions on how to fill out each form. We will also determine at this meeting whether or not a fire marshal inspection will be required.
Once the application packet is complete, please call to schedule your first home visit.
The application packet consists of the following items:
Information on foster care training requirements
Pre-training handout on competencies
An application for foster care
Individual fact sheets
Benton County foster parent home study form
Current foster care DOC rates
Request for fire inspection form
Child protection reporting form
Home safety checklist
Agreement between foster parent and placing agency
Fire and escape plan
Notice of privacy practices
Child and teen check up information
Foster provider liability insurance information
Copy of orientation slide show
The applicant must cooperate with a home study conducted by Benton County. At a minimum, there must be one in-home interview and documented interviews with all household members over seven years of age. Home study forms are located in the application packet.
During the home study the applicant must demonstrate the ability to:
- Provide consistent supervision, positive and constructive discipline, and care and training to contribute to the foster child’s well being
- Understand Benton County’s programs and goals
- Work within Benton County and State of Minnesota policies
- Share responsibility for the foster child’s well-being with the foster child’s social worker, school, and legal parents
- Actively support the foster child’s racial or ethnic background, culture, and religion, and respect the child’s sexual orientation
- Accept the foster child’s relationship with the child’s family and relatives and to support visitation and family reunification efforts
- Have a current network of support that may include extended family, neighbors, cultural and community ties that the applicant can use to strengthen and applicant’s abilities, and for support and help
- Meet the foster child’s special needs, if any, including medical needs, disabilities, or emotional disturbances
- Deal with anger, sorrow, frustration, conflict, and other emotions in a manner that will build positive interpersonal relationships
- Nurture children, be mature and demonstrate an ability to comply with the foster child’s care plan and meet the needs of the foster children in the applicant’s care.
During the first home visit your completed paperwork will be reviewed and your home will be inspected according to the home safety checklist. Any areas of non-compliance will be identified and discussed. These items will need to be corrected before licensure. During this visit you will also be provided with fingerprint cards and the background study authorization form. The licensor will also review the discipline policy, grievance policy, chemical use policy and statement of intended use form.
After you have made the necessary corrections, please call to schedule your second home visit. During this visit any incomplete paperwork will be reviewed and your home will be inspected again. This visit is to verify that all cited safety issues have been corrected and you’re your home is in compliance with the licensing law. If everything is in compliance at this point and your paperwork is complete, you will be licensed effective that day. If not items are complete at the second home visit, then a third home visit will be scheduled.
Prior to licensure, the applicant will be asked to complete the discipline policy form indicating what forms of discipline to be used with foster children. The license holder must consider the child’s abuse history and development, cultural, disability, and gender needs when deciding the disciplinary action to be taken.
Children must not be subject to:
- Corporal punishment: rough handling, shoving, ear or hair pulling, shaking, slapping, kicking, biting, pinching, hitting, throwing objects at, or spanking.
- Verbal abuse: name calling, derogatory statements about the child or child’s family, race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, or culture. Verbal abuse also includes statements intended to shame, threaten, humiliate, or frighten.
- Punishment for lapse in toilet habits, including bed wetting or soiling
- Withholding of basic needs
- Assigning work that is dangerous or not consistent with the child’s case plan
- Disciplining one child for the unrelated action of another
- Requiring the child to assume an uncomfortable or fixed position for an extended period of time
The license holder must:
- Never require a child to punish other children
- Follow the child’s case plan regarding discipline
- Not use mechanical restraints or seclusion with a foster child
- Ensure the duration of time-outs are appropriate to the age of the child
Prior to licensure, the applicant will be required to work with Benton County to develop a written grievance policy. This policy will be shared with the foster child, the child’s parents and a copy will be kept in the file. The foster parent must notify Benton County about any written complaints or grievances and the resolution of the complaint.
The applicant and all household members must sign a statement that they have been free of chemical use problems for the past two years. The provider will also be asked to keep a chemical use policy on file for all care providers indicating they will not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol while caring for children.
The Statement of Intended Use governs all placements made in your home. Foster parents may decline placements without reason.
Unlike childcare licensing, the background checks and home inspections associated with foster care are done at no charge, with the exception of the fire inspection. There is a $50 fee for this service. Benton County also provides the child passenger safety course at no charge for foster parents. Medical and dental costs for foster children are covered under Medical Assistance or other medical insurance, not the foster parents.
Foster parents are reimbursed for expenses based on the daily basic maintenance foster care rates and the child’s difficulty of care (DOC) rating. This reimbursement is intended to cover the daily expenses of keeping a child in your home. In certain situations you would also receive an initial clothing allowance for the child, which will need to be used within the first 60 days of placement. If you work outside the home you are responsible for paying additional childcare or after school costs.
The current daily basic maintenance foster care rates are:
- Age 0-11: $20.57
- Age 12-14: $23.75
- Age 15-18: $24.48
Foster parents are allowed to use substitute caregivers in certain circumstances. All substitutes needs to be approved by Benton County and are able to meet the needs of the child in care.
Benton County may that a county background check be done on any substitute providing less than 72 hours of continuous care. Care being provided over night should be done by a substitute 18 years of age or older.
Long term substitute providers caring for the child longer than 72 continuous hours must:
- Be 18 years of age or older
- Have completed a background study in the past 12 months
- Have no statutory or rule disqualification
If the long-term substitute will be providing more than 30 cumulative days of care, the substitute must also:
- Submit a signed statement attesting to good health and being physically able to provide care
- Have at least 6 hours of training or 20 hours of experience in caring for children
Benton County requests that all day care being provided to foster children be done in a licensed family day care or day care center.
Things to Remember
Applicants and adult household members must provide a signed statement that indicates they are receiving all necessary medical care and are physically able to provide care for foster children. Limitations should also be documented.
Discipline needs to be appropriate for the child’s age and development. Physical discipline is not allowed.
License holder needs to notify the agency immediately if there is any change in household membership. All roomers and boarders need to have background checks.
Licensure does not guarantee placement of children
Provider must grant Benton County access to the home where the care is provided without prior notice and as often as considered necessary.
Providers must have a means to contact Benton County 24 hours a day
Providers need to follow visitation plans outlined in the child’s case plan. Work schedules should be flexible enough to accommodate basic medical appointments and visitations.
Substitute caregivers need to be approved by Benton County
The foster care license is not transferable to another person, entity or site.
Minnesota Rule; Parts 2960.3000 – 2960.3340
Child Foster Care Homes are licensed according to Minnesota Rule; Parts 2960.3000-2960.3340. To view this rule, visit https://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/rules/?id=2960 For additional information, also see the Human Services Licensing Act at https://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/statutes/?id=245A
Adam Walsh Background Study Consent Form
Application for Child Placement
Benton County Provider Agreement
Chemical Use Policy
Fire Escape Floor Plan
Fire Marshal Inspection Request Form
Health Assessment Form
Individual Fact Sheet
Respite Care Forms
Statement of Intended Use
MN Rule; Parts 2960.3000-2960.3340
MN Statute 245A
MN Child Welfare Training Brochure
Training for Foster, Adoptive and Kinship (FAK) Parents Brochure
Department of Human Services Licensing Division