Foster care for children

Hennepin County foster care is a temporary haven for children who cannot live safely in their own homes. Foster care offers time for parents to resolve their issues.

The first goal of foster care is to keep children safe while supporting families' efforts to come back together. Most children who enter foster care in Hennepin County do return to their families. When families are not able to reunite, foster parents provide a safe, stable and nurturing home until a relative is found to care for the children. In some cases, foster families may be asked to provide a permanent home. 

Foster parents make a difference every day. Their daily joys are in holding and rocking the babies and toddlers, being present to nurture and care for the children, listening to and guiding the teens. The biggest reward is seeing children heal and grow.


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Attend an information meeting

The first step to becoming an foster or adoptive parent in Hennepin County is attending an information meeting. Please join us and bring your questions. You will learn more about current adoption and foster care needs and about what to expect from the licensing process. After this two-hour information meeting, you can decide whether to take the next step and complete an application. Training is free and you don't have to pre-register.

If you are part of a two-parent household, both adults must attend a meeting. Child care is not provided.

Spring 2016 foster care and adoption information meetings 

Regular information meetings 

  • Monday, May 2, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., Hennepin County Library – Edina, 5280 Grandview Square, Edina
  • Thursday, May 26, 5 to 7 p.m., Hennepin County Library – Brookdale, 6125 Shingle Creek Parkway, Brooklyn Center (part of the Foster Care Month event – see below for more details)
  • Monday, June 13, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Hennepin County Library – Ridgedale, 12601 Ridgedale Drive, Minnetonka 
  • Tuesday, June 28, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Hennepin County Library – North Regional, 1315 Lowry Avenue North, Minneapolis

Foster Care Month event

Thursday, May 26, 4 to 8 p.m., Hennepin County Library – Brookdale, 6125 Shingle Creek Parkway, Brooklyn Center | Map

  • Resource fair, 4-8 p.m.
  • Information meeting, including a panel of current foster parents 5 to 7 p.m.

RSVPs appreciated to

Foster care information meeting & resource fair flyer (PDF)

More information

Call 612-348-5437, or email Please contact us if you are concerned about weather-related cancellations.

Deciding between foster care and adoption

If you are at a crossroads between foster care and adoption, we can help. Come to an information meeting to learn about both programs.  

Decide if foster care is right for you

Being a foster parent can be an incredibly rewarding, life-altering challenge, if you are ready to take it. You can decide when it is the right time. Children in the foster care system need a special kind of person. A successful foster parent is patient, an advocate, likes kids, a team player and able to love and let go when the job is done. 

Look at your life

  • You are at least 21 years old.
  • You are at least one year from a major life event, such as a divorce, birth of a child, or a significant loss, and two years from chemical dependency treatment.
  • You are open to a review of your criminal background, your human service and social service history.
  • You have enough income to meet your own family’s needs.
  • Your have a flexible work schedule.

Look at your family

  • You are single or a couple
  • Foster children may share a room with other children, in some circumstances.
  • Your family and members of your household would welcome a child and support the licensing process.

Look at your home

  • You live in Hennepin County.
  • You live in a home that has at least two bedrooms.
  • You need to have reliable transportation because foster parents must transport children to appointments several times a week.

Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)

Contact ICWA staff: 612-348-5437

When Native American children can’t live safely in their homes, Hennepin County works to place them with foster families from their own cultures. Currently, there are more Native children in the child protection system than our foster care system can support. Our community desperately needs more caring, capable Native American families to step forward to be foster parents for Native kids.

Native American children need to be placed in homes where they can maintain ties to extended family and tribes, and continue to grow, rooted in their own cultural beliefs, traditions and celebrations. 

The federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) guides child protection work in the Native American communities. The act is enforced by the state of Minnesota and local tribes, and applies to all of the Native children who currently need placement for foster care or permanent family care in Hennepin County. 

Understanding ICWA 

The state is required to make efforts to place Native children in Native homes. The Indian Child Welfare Act provides "placement preferences," in this order: 

  1. With family members
  2. With a family who is part of the child's tribe
  3. In a nonrelative Native American family home 

Hennepin County must forward all Native American children’s referrals to tribes for review, regardless of the race or national origin of the prospective parent or the child. The tribe then determines whether to support or reject the placement. 

When no Native American homes are available

When placement with a Native American family is not possible, we look for a non-Native family that will be able to nurture the children’s cultural practices and beliefs. 

You should know

Any Native American individuals and families who are interested in becoming foster parents are invited to contact us.

Call us even if you are concerned about issues in your past. We will work with you. 

Get started

To start this process and/or learn more, call our intake line at 612-348-5437. Hennepin County social workers will be able to answer your questions and give you details about the next foster care information meetings. Please call if you already have a home study and want information about specific children, or are having a difficult time with this process.

Complete the licensing process

Once you have attended an information session, spend some time looking at your life and considering whether this is the right time to become a foster parent.

Then you can start the licensing process. You must have a license to offer foster care to children who are not related to you.

The foster care licensing process takes about four to six months, depending on your schedule. This is what you will have to do:

Fill out an application

You will receive the paperwork at the information meeting. We will walk you through all of the questions. After the meeting, we will be available to help you by phone or email. Contact us at 612-348-5437 or    

Participate in a background check

Hennepin County foster care is required to determine whether your life and your home will meet state and county standards to offer a child or teen a healthy haven. We will work with you to look at your

  • Mental, physical and chemical health
  • Criminal background human service and social service history
  • Family, friends and the members of your household

Meet with a social worker

A Hennepin County social worker will schedule a series of interviews with you and your family members, to assess your family and your home, and to gather information to aid in the matching process once you are licensed. 

Get an invitation to foster care training

Over the course of several training sessions, you will learn more about children in foster care and the tools that will help you to care for them. We also will share information about resources that the county and other organizations offer to help you.

Your licensing worker will invite you to complete six pre-service training classes and foster care orientation before you earn your license in Hennepin County.

You must register for each class, at least 10 days in advance of the class. Contact us at or 612-348-KIDS (5437).

More information

If you are concerned about a weather-related cancellation, contact us at or call 612-348-KIDS (5437).

Training for licensed foster parents

All licensed Hennepin County providers need 12 hours of training each year, and five of the 12 hours must be sponsored by Hennepin County.

Parents who have adopted a child though the Hennepin County foster care program also are welcome to attend training, even if your license has expired.

See the foster care licensing process, described above, for information about becoming a foster care provider.

Register for a class

Registration is required, at least two weeks in advance. Your registration will be confirmed by phone or email.

Email registration is preferred, at You also may call and leave a message at 612-348-5840. Please provide us with the class title, your name, your licensing worker's name, and a daytime phone number. You also can register with your licensing worker.

Other details:

  • You are welcome to bring your own meal. Light snacks will be provided for training classes that are three or more hours.
  • Please remember that children are not allowed at any training sessions. Child care is not provided.
  • For weather cancellations, call 612-348-5840, after 5 p.m. In case of other cancellations, participants will be notified by email or telephone.
  • A parking voucher for the Hennepin County Medical Center parking ramp is again available for everyone who pre-registers for training, when training is scheduled at Health Services Building.  

Pre-service training

Unless otherwise noted, all training will be held at Brookdale Regional Center, 6125 Shingle Creek Parkway, Brooklyn Center.

Introduction to mental health

  • Saturday, June 11, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Introduction to fetal alcohol syndrome disorders for providers 

  • Wednesday, June 15, 1 to 4 p.m.

Pre-service training: Culture and placement

  • Saturday, June 18, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Pre-service training: Abuse and neglect in child welfare

  • Saturday, June 18, 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Supporting children exposed to domestic violence

  • Wednesday, June 22, 6 to 9 p.m.

Pre-service training: Impact of abuse and neglect

  • Saturday, June 25, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Pre-service training: Attachment issues in child welfare

  • Saturday, June 25, 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Ongoing training

Unless otherwise noted, all training sessions are held at 6125 Shingle Creek Parkway, Brooklyn Center.

Hair and skin all faces and races

 Get grooming and hygiene information for children in diverse homes, provided by a professional.

  • June 4, 9 a.m. to noon

Foster care adoption option 

Learn about the circumstances that allow foster families to adopt children in their care.

  • June 6, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Introduction to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders for providers

Get information to help children who were exposed to alcohol before birth.

  • June 15, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Introduction to mental health

Learn to identify problems and develop strategies to help children with mental health challenges.

  • June 11, 9 a.m. to noon

Relative/kin initial session

Learn how to provide care for a child who you already know. You will be referred by your social worker. Sessions are held at 525 Portland Avenue, Minneapolis, room L15.

  • June 9, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • June 23, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • July 6, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m..
  • July 18, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m..

Supporting children exposed to domestic violence

Learn to work with children who come from homes where there was domestic abuse.

  • June 22, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Mental health videos

Self harm

Recognize when children are harming themselves, and develop strategies to help them.

  • June 2, noon to 1 p.m., Ridgedale Human Services, 12601 Ridgedale Drive, Minnetonka, room 229

Children and mental health

Learn about helping children who have mental health concerns.

  • June 20, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., 525 Portland Avenue, Minneapolis, room 917

Sexually abused children in foster care

Learn about helping children in foster care who have been sexually abused.

  • June 29, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Ridgedale Human Services, 12601 Ridgedale Drive, Minnetonka, room 222

Lying, stealing, running away

Learn about the behaviors associated with insecure attachment.

  • July 5, 10:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., 525 Portland Avenue, Minneapolis, room 817

Sudden unexpected infant death and abusive head trauma and car seat safety

These sessions are always held at 525 Portland Avenue, Minneapolis.

Classes are paired to give busy foster parents the opportunity to take one or both classes on the same day.

These classes are free to Hennepin County foster parents. Fees for private agencies and certain other individuals are $25 for sessions less than four hours and $50 for sessions that last more than four hours. Prepayment for classes is preferred but payments will be accepted at the door. No cash payment; checks or money orders only, made out to the Hennepin County Treasurer.

Car seat safety

Pair this class with a session on sudden unexpected infant death and abusive head trauma, offered the same day. See below.

  • Wednesday, July 6, 6 p.m. to 9:15 p.m.
  • Saturday, July 16, 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. 
  • Tuesday, July 19, 6 p.m. to 9:15 p.m.
  • Thursday, August 11, 6 p.m. to 9:15 p.m.
  • Saturday, August 20, 6 p.m. to 9:15 p.m.

Sudden unexpected infant death and abusive head trauma

Pair this class with a session on car seat safety, offered the same day. See above.

  • Wednesday, July 6, 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Saturday, July 16, 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Tuesday, July 19, 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Thursday, August 11, 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Saturday, August 20, 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. 

Respite care providers needed

Respite care gives foster parents a needed short-term break. Respite care parents go through the same licensing process as other foster parents. If you want to become a respite care provider, you must attend the foster care information meeting and receive an application to begin the licensing process.

Respite needs

Children with developmental disabilities

Some of our greatest respite needs are for providers who can care for children with autism, cerebral palsy, Asperger's Syndrome, medically involved children, or children in wheelchairs. Respite requests for children with developmental disabilities are almost always for one child at a time. The care may be provided for one or two weekends a month for several months in a row, or for a week at a time.

Children with behavioral and emotional problems

Respite care is also given to families who need a break from children who have challenging behaviors and or emotional problems. Most of these children are adolescents or younger children in larger sibling groups. These children need care for a week or more at a time.

For foster parents

If you want to arrange respite care, you must contact your licensing social worker at least 30 days prior to your proposed respite date(s) when possible.

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