May is National Foster Care Month, a time to honor family foster parents throughout the state who provide love, stability and homes for children in need.
To recognize the contributions of those who provide foster care in our community, the Crow Wing County Community Services Department is hosting an annual Foster Parent Recognition Banquet on May 14 at Northland Arboretum.
“We are pleased to honor families who open their homes to children who need care in our community,” said Lynda Erickson, Crow Wing County Social Service supervisor in a news release. “It is an opportunity to celebrate the excellent service provided by our 49 county licensed child foster care homes.”
Crow Wing County licenses foster homes for people of all ages and needs. There were 133 children in foster care as of March in the county. These children cannot live with their parents because of child neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, substance abuse or mental health concerns of the parents, or due to their own behavioral issues, the county reported.
“We are always looking for qualified people to provide quality foster care,” Erickson said. “Those who are willing and able to provide this service to children in need are encouraged to contact us.”
By state law, child foster homes must be licensed according to the standards set forth by the Minnesota Department of Human Services. The licensing process takes about three to four months. To apply, a person must be 21 years of age and pass a criminal background study which includes fingerprinting for anyone over the age of 18 in their household and background studies of anyone older than 13 in the household.
Foster parents may be single or married, rent or own their own home, and foster parents may be employed full time or part time. There is a monthly stipend to cover the foster child’s expenses. All children in foster care are automatically eligible for medical assistance. There is also eligibility for WIC for children under the age of 5 and free lunch for school age children.
Individuals and families who apply to be foster parents are given training and support before, during and after they are licensed. Foster parents need to complete an orientation, child car seat training, SIDS/shaken baby training and children’s mental health training, which is all provided by Crow Wing County. After becoming licensed, foster homes are required to have 12 hours of training per year.
“The need for families who can foster sibling groups is great at this time,” Erickson said. “Crisis homes that take children on short notice for short periods of time are also in demand.” Erickson pointed out that Crow Wing County is also looking for permanency homes for children. Permanency means that if for some reason the child cannot be reunified with a parent or relative, the foster parent may adopt the child.
The county reported those who have room in their heart and their home and are considering becoming a foster parent or want more information may call Amanda Crandall, foster care licensor, at Crow Wing County Community Services at (218) 822-7015 or visit the website at www.co.crow-wing.mn.us.
Crow Wing County Community Services provides Children’s Mental Health, Child Protection and Child Welfare services to families. In 2011, over 250 families and 750 children were served. The agency is dedicated serving with compassion to promote and protect the health, well-being and self-sufficiency of all residents of Crow Wing County.