Foster Care and Other Out-of-home Placement

Foster Care

Children thrive best in their families. Family preservation efforts are provided to prevent out-of-home placement whenever possible. Most often foster care is temporary and children are reunited with their parents within a short time.

In Minnesota, when children must enter foster care, relatives and kin are sought to care for their children. Preserving relationships with family members is crucial to a child’s sense of safety and well being. When relatives and kin are not available, county social service and private foster care agencies recruit community members to become foster families. In Minnesota, more than 70 percent of the children in out-of-home placement were in a home setting.

Interested in becoming a foster parent?

Contact your county or tribal social service agency. More information about the steps for becoming a foster parent are available on the department’s website.

Special fund brightens lives of children in foster care

Since 1941, foster children have had the opportunity to participate in more activities and feel more a part of their foster families thanks to the Forgotten Children’s Fund. Initially established by the American Legion Auxiliary, the fund is now administered by the Minnesota Department of Human Services. The Forgotten Children’s Fund is just one feature of Minnesota’s foster care system. It helps foster families purchase special items and services beyond food, clothing and shelter which are paid for by foster care payments. For example, it allows families to pay for things such as bikes, class rings, art supplies, sports equipment, driver’s education, graduation expenses, or pay camp registrations and fees for their foster children. Only county workers may make requests for funding. To donate to the fund, send a check and dated letter, specifying the amount of the contribution designated for the Forgotten Children’s Fund, to Mary Doyle, Minnesota Department of Human Services, Child Safety and Permanency Division, P.O. Box 64943, St. Paul, MN 55164-0943. To access the fund, social workers should review current information the rules regarding the funding process (PDF). Questions or comments about the fund are welcome at dhs.forgottenchildrensfund@state.mn.us.

Minnesota foster parents help children and their families

Children need to feel safe and nurtured in order to learn and grow. Foster parents provide for the child’s educational, health, cultural and social needs. Foster parents bring children to doctor appointments, participate in the child’s education and attend cultural events in the community. Of approximately 11,400 children in out-of-home placements in 2011, foster families provided temporary care to 7,950 of them. Approximately 79 percent of children in out-of-home care were reunited with their birth parents or found permanency with relatives.

How foster parents help

Whenever possible, foster care enables children to:

  • • Remain in their communities
  • • Remain close to their siblings, other family members and friends
  • • Attend the same schools, team events, cultural and social activities.
  • Foster families play a critical role by caring for the child and providing support to the child’s family. This relationship can continue after the child returns home. Foster families may provide:

  • • Temporary, short-term care to children in crisis. They provide a bridge with birth parents to enable children to return safely home or to a new adoptive or another permanent family.
  • • Longer term care through Concurrent Permanency Planning. Foster families work with birth families to reunite children with their parents. When reunification is no longer possible, foster families may be asked to make a permanent commitment to their foster children by adopting them.
  • • Respite care to children with special needs whose families may need a short break from their daily routine.
  • For more information contact your local county social services agency Dhs.Child.Safety-Permanency@state.mn.us

    Foster Care DHS Forms

    Better outcomes for children expected under Northstar Care

    Beginning January 2015, adoptive, foster families, and relative custodians will care for children under a single set of financial benefits and streamlined processes. The changes are part of a new program called Northstar Care for Children. It is designed to help children who are removed from their homes for their protection or disability, and follows them to an adoption or transfer of custody to a relative if the child cannot be safely reunified with their parents. It combines three child welfare programs – family foster care, adoption assistance and custody assistance – to create a simpler and uniform benefits for children 6 and older, and benefits that are coordinated though not uniform for children 5 and younger. No child in placement prior to implementation of the new law will experience any changes in benefits or processes as long as the child remains with the same caregiver and does not change legal status. A fact sheet, Northstar Care for Children (PDF), provides an overview of the program. More comprehensive information about the program, including administrative details, is on CountyLink.

    Training videos demonstrate best-practices for caseworker visits

    Frequent, quality visits by caseworkers with children in foster care are essential to their safety and well-being at all ages. At each developmental stage, their needs change, and so does the focus of the visit. These nine brief videos each provide best-practice suggestions for different scenarios involving foster children:

    For more information about foster care and out-of-home-placement

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