Foster care

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 a foster care information session

The first step to becoming a foster parent in Hennepin County is attending an information meeting. Please join us and bring your questions. You will learn more about current 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 2015 foster care information meetings

  • Tuesday, March 17, 12:30-2:30 p.m., Hennepin County Library—Washburn, 5244 Lyndale Avenue South, Minneapolis
  • Thursday, April 16, 5 to 7 p.m., Hennepin County Library — Northeast, 2200 Central Avenue Northeast, Minneapolis
  • Thursday, May 14, 12:30 to 2:30 p.m., Hennepin County Library — Roosevelt, 4026 28th Avenue South, Minneapolis

More information

Call 612-348-KIDS (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 for foster care or adoption 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.

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).

Pre-service training

All training classes are at 525 Portland Avenue South, unless specifically indicated otherwise.

Saturday, January 17

  • 9 a.m. to noon, Cultural issues in placement
  • 12:30 to 3:30 p.m., Family system and abuse and neglect

Saturday, January 24

  • 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Attachment, separation and placement

Saturday, February

  • 7 to 9 a.m. to noon, Discipline

Saturday, February 21

  • 9 a.m. to noon, Sexual abuse
  • 1 to 4 p.m., Effects of caregivers on the family

Tuesday, February 24 

  • 9 a.m. to noon, Introduction to trauma

Foster care orientation

Check back for more sessions. 

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. Classes will be canceled if not enough people sign up.

Please provide us with the class title, your name, your licensing worker's name, and a daytime phone number. You can also register with licensing worker.

Email registration is preferred, at You also may call 612-348-5840, and leave a message.

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. No vouchers will be given to drop-ins.

Training topic schedule 2015

Unless otherwise noted, all training will be held in the Health Services Building (HSB), 525 Portland Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55415.

Foster care and adoption information meetings

See information above, under "Attend a foster care information meeting."

Pre-service training and foster care orientation

Classes are held at Hennepin County Health Services Building, 525 Portland Avenue South, Minneapolis.

Check back for future classes.

Ongoing training

Foster parents must complete these classes to maintain their licenses. All training classes are at the Hennepin County Health Services Building, 525 Portland Avenue South, Minneapolis, unless specifically indicated otherwise.

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and your foster child

Monday, March 23, 6 to 8 p.m.

Youth speaker panel and Foster parents’ role in supporting permanency

Thursday, March 19, 6 to 9 p.m.

Hear a panel of teens speak about their experience in foster care and for some, their experience with adoption, then Michelle Chalmers from Ampersand Families will lead a presentation on how foster parents can make a difference in the lives of children and teens by supporting recruitment efforts and hopefully, the child/teen’s transition to an adoptive family.  Staff will also be available to discuss Hennepin’s current recruitment efforts and how Hennepin partners with child-specific recruiters.

Foster care and childhood trauma

Tuesday, April 14, 9 a.m. to noon

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and your foster child

June 18, 6 to 8 p.m.

Classes for a mental health credit

The Mental Health Needs of Young Children in Foster Care

Wednesday, March 11, noon to 2:30 p.m — Michele Fallon

Working with Biological Parents

Tuesday, March 24, noon to 2:30 p.m. — Michele Fallon

Sudden infant death syndrome/shaken baby syndrome and car seat safety

Classes on preventing sudden infant death syndrome and shaken baby syndrome are paired with car seat safety seminars to give busy foster parents the opportunity to take one or both classes on the same night. Classes are offered on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. 

Saturday, March 21

  • 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Car seat safety
  • 12:30 to 2 p.m. Sudden infant death syndrome/shaken baby syndrome

Thursday, March 26

  • 4:30 to 6 p.m. Sudden infant death syndrome/shaken baby syndrome
  • 6 to 9:15 p.m. Car seat safety

Saturday, April 11

  • 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Car seat safety
  • 12:30 to 2 p.m. Sudden infant death syndrome/shaken baby syndrome

Tuesday, April 21

  • 4:30 to 6 p.m. Sudden infant death syndrome/shaken baby syndrome
  • 6 to 9:15 p.m. Car seat safety

Saturday, May 2

  • 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Car seat safety
  • 12:30 to 2 p.m. Sudden infant death syndrome/shaken baby syndrome

Tuesday, May 12

  • 4:30 to 6 p.m. Sudden infant death syndrome/shaken baby syndrome
  • 6 to 9:15 p.m. Car seat safety

Thursday, May 28

  • 4:30 to 6 p.m. Sudden infant death syndrome/shaken baby syndrome
  • 6 to 9:15 p.m. Car seat safety

Saturday, June 13

  • 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Car seat safety
  • 12:30 to 2 p.m. Sudden infant death syndrome/shaken baby syndrome

Tuesday, June 23

  • 4:30 to 6 p.m. Sudden infant death syndrome/shaken baby syndrome
  • 6 to 9:15 p.m. Car seat safety

*SIDS/Shaken Baby Syndrome and car seat classes are free only to Hennepin County foster parents. Class fees for private agencies and certain other individuals are $25 for sessions fewer 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.

Super Saturday sessions

Hand-in-Hand training

Saturday, March 28, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wellstone Center Mississippi National River and Recreation Area 179 Robie Street East, Saint Paul

The Hand in Hand training is a free opportunity for parents, caregivers and professionals who care for and support those who have received or suspect a fetal alcohol diagnosis, to come together and learn about FASD in a supportive and informal setting. Topics include FASD: The Basics, FASD at Home, FASD at School, and Building Strong Families.

Click to register. For information, email or call 651-380-9294.

Working with children who have experienced trauma (series)

Licensed foster parents must attend both days of this a two-day training to receive the 14 hours training credit. The training will be held on consecutive Saturdays. Lunch and snacks will be served.

Overview of resource family care

Participants will begin learning about the world of child welfare and their roles as foster parents. This module helps participants understand the need for resource families and provides specific information on the commonalities and differences between being a foster, concurrent permanency planning, adoptive, or kinship caregiver.

Team building

Participants will explore their roles as members of the social service team and learn how to support the children or youth in their care. The training discusses how to work collaboratively with the caseworker, agency staff, and other professionals, as well as birth parents. Discussions will include how to participate in case coordination activities.

Cultural issues in placement

Participants will learn skills to become culturally competent, by exploring their values, attitudes and patterns of behavior. They will the importance of developing and nurturing the cultural identity of children and incorporating them into their families.

Family systems and abuse and neglect

Participants will begin to identify the characteristics of families where maltreatment occurs and the roles of parents in preventing abuse and neglect. They will explore the contributing factors to maltreatment and learn how abused and neglected children continue to be at increased risk for abuse and neglect even after being placed in foster, adoptive or kinship care.

Impact on abuse and neglect on child development

This training provides an overview of normal childhood development and the impact of abuse and neglect. It also explains how to recognize developmental delays or challenges.

Attachment, separation and placement

This training outlines normal, healthy attachment and the impact on attachment of separation from primary families. Participants will explore how children’s developmental levels affect their understanding of and reactions to out-of-home placement.


This training examines the importance of discipline based on the children’s age, developmental level, past experiences and current situations. It also explains the rationale for statutes and rules on physical punishment in alternative care homes.

Primary families

This training helps participants to understand the grief process of a birth parent whose children have entered an out-of-home placement, and the importance of involving the birth family in case planning, daily decision-making and other activities to support reunification.

Sexual abuse

This training examines the definition and dynamics of child sexual abuse. Participants will learn that sexual abuse is a complex problem and why children who have been sexually abused may have a hard time adjusting to a new home. Additional training and resources to successfully care for these children and teens will be discussed.

Effects of caregiving on the family

Participants will learn to recognize signs of family stress and to see the importance of developing and using support systems to prevent a family crisis. Instructors will outline the procedures that are required if there are allegations of maltreatment. We also will explore health, hygiene and nutritional issues.

Permanency issues for children

Participants will learn the unique aspects of becoming a permanent home for a child who will not be returning to his or her biological parents. Participants will begin to understand complicated post-placement issues such as loss, identity and split loyalties begin to prepare to guide children through them. Caregivers will explore supports for parents and children in their community.

Permanency issues for families

This training helps participants recognize the long-term adjustment to adoption for the parent and the child. This includes dealing with grief, loss, identity, control, divided loyalties and fertility issues as well as the fantasy of being a “dream family.”

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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