How to become a Foster Parent

Potential foster and adoptive parents go through a similar process to be licensed and approved. Minnesota requires foster parents to meet licensing prior to placement. County agencies can place a child with a relative who is not licensed at the time of placement as long as the relative promptly completes the licensing process and meets the required standards.

Step 1: Make a call

Child welfare services, including foster care is provided on a local level through county social service agencies. In most cases county agencies first seek foster parents in the child’s community, Therefore your county or tribal social service agency is your first point of contact. The agency they will ask for personal information such as your name, address, phone number, your motivation, and discuss with you their need for foster and adoptive parents.

Some county agencies offer information meetings. At an information meeting the agency presents an overview of the role and responsibilities of foster parents. There is also information given about the agencies need for foster parents and general information about the children in need of foster care. The application and other paperwork are usually provided for interested families. This is a link to the county web sites that offer these meetings.

Private child placing agencies also license foster parents. County agencies make referrals to these private agencies. Private agencies can serve several children from different counties. Private agencies may also have information meetings. A current list of private agencies is here: Foster Care Agency List

Step 2: Complete the application, and fact sheet

Minnesota offers one application for child foster care licensing and adoption. In order to be a licensed foster care provider, you will need to complete and submit the application for children placement, and individual fact sheet. These forms are available from the county service agency or private agency. They are also available online:

Minnesota Adoption and Foster Care Application (PDF)
Minnesota Adoption and Foster Care Individual Fact Sheet (PDF)

Step 3: Initiate a background study

A background study is required for everyone in the home 13 years of age and older. The county or private agency will provide applicants with finger print cards and instructions about how to initiate a study in your community. Foster care and adoption background studies are completed by the Minnesota Department of Human Services. Link: Background studies


Step 4: Open home for visit and study

The county or private agency will assign a social worker to visit you and your family to interview you and complete a home study assessment.

Home Safety: Your home will need to be safe and meet fire codes. Home Safety Checklist (PDF)

Interviews: The home study process involves several interviews with you and your family members. The social worker will use the information gathered at during the interviews and collateral contacts to write an assessment. The social worker has the responsibility to assess potential foster and adoptive parent’s ability to provide a healthy environment for a child. County and private agencies are required to use the commissioner’s format for the assessment. The format is available for your review, Link: Minnesota Adoption and Foster Care Home Study Assessment (PDF)

Step 5: Receive foster care license

When you have successfully completed the process, the agency will notify the state of Minnesota and a license will be issued. This license is good for either one or two years. Prior to the expiration date, the assessment will need to be updated to renew the license.

Step 6: Participate in training

The Minnesota Child Welfare Training System offers trainings for foster, adoptive, and kinship parents around the state. These trainings give potential and current foster parents the tools to have a successful foster care experience. Some metro counties offer regular informational meetings for individuals interested in becoming foster parents. If these meeting are not available in your area, it may be possible to connect with a current foster parent.

Thank you for your interest in becoming a foster parent.

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