ADULT & FAMILIESChildren & YouthChild Foster Care   

Child 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 services recruits community members to become foster families. In Minnesota, more than 70 percent of the children in out-of-home placement are in a home setting.

How Foster Care Helps

Foster Care provides a safe place to be if a child cannot live with his / her family, or on their own. Children enter foster care because of neglect, abuse, a family crisis, or the child's own needs. Foster Parents help by providing stability, affection, consistency, and nurturing.

Foster Care is a temporary living situation for children. It is not meant to be forever. Children usually continue to visit their own families until they may be reunited. While the child is out of the home, St Louis County Public Health & Human Services is working to provide services so that the child can return to their parent(s). In most situations foster families will have some contact with the child’s family.

St Louis County 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 11,300 children in out-of-home placements in 2010, foster families provided temporary care to 7,900 of them. Approximately 78 percent of children in out-of-home care were reunited with their birth parents or found permanency with relatives.

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. Foster families may provide:
• Temporary, short-term care for children in crisis.
• Longer term care as families work through the reunification process. When reunification is not possible, foster families sometimes make a permanent commitment to their foster children.
• Respite care for children whose families may need a short break from their daily routine.

Child Foster Care Licensing

Information to Consider 

Should I Do Foster Care?
Child Foster Care Licensing Information
Agreement Between Foster Parents and Placement Agency
Perspective on Foster Care and Adoption

The Licensing Process

Information Sessions: We will share information about our foster care program, the children in foster care, their families, the re-unification process, and St. Louis County’s expectations of foster families. Information sessions are scheduled several times each month.

Contact: Jessie Schunk 218-749-9793 or toll-free 800-450-9777 x7793 or

Here are some Child Foster Care Questions Jessie will ask when you call to inquire and/or register.

Application: Your decision to do foster care begins when you return your application. It takes between 90 and 120 days to be licensed from that point. Part of the application process is a thorough background check. You will need sign some release forms and be fingerprinted for your background checks.

Home Safety Inspection: A licensor will visit your home to begin licensing and determine if your home needs a state fire marshal inspection.

Home Study: A licensor will conduct a home study with you and your family to get to know you so they can determine what types of children would be a good fit in your home. This home study process generally takes about 6 hours and happens in a series of visits.

Training: St. Louis County requires about 30 hours of training in the first year of licensing. Some training needs to happen prior to getting children, the rest within the first year.

Recommendation for licensure: Following completion of the Home Study and the related licensing requirements a recommendation is made to the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS). The final decision is made by the DHS Division of Licensing. 

Minnesota Rules for Foster Family Settings - Minnesota Administrative Rules Chapter 2960 covers the Licensure and Certification of Programs for Children. Parts 2960.3000 to 2960.3100 establish the minimum standards that a foster family setting must meet to qualify for licensure. Parts 2960.3200 to  2960.3230 contain requirements for foster residence settings. Additional licensing requirements for foster family settings that offer treatment foster care are in parts 2960.3300 to 2960.3340.

Types of Foster Care

General Child Foster Care: Families who are willing to open their home to children who are unknown to them. Families may take one child, sibling groups, or children from multiple families. Placements generally last between 3- 9 months. When reunification is not possible, foster families can be an option for permanancy. 

Respite Foster Care: This program relieves birth parents and foster parents for a specific relief period, often one or two weekends a month.

Contact: Jessie Schunk 218-749-9793 or toll-free 800-450-9777 x7793 or