Foster Care Q&A

Frequently asked questions

What is foster care?

Foster care provides temporary living arrangements, in a nurturing family setting, for children who cannot live with their birth parents for various reasons. Foster care provides children with stability and guidance while birth parents deal with assorted issues.

Which children are typically placed in foster homes?

Children who are placed in foster homes have been removed from their parents’ homes because of abuse, neglect or other family issues that endanger their safety. Children who need foster families come from all racial and ethnic backgrounds, and range in age from infants to teens.

The Foster Care children that Volunteers of America - Minnesota supports have led traumatic, chaotic lives and have rarely experienced stability. They struggle with a wide range of emotional and/or behavioral challenges that are a direct result of abuse, neglect and abandonment. They need acceptance, guidance, nurturing and a stable home environment that will encourage their healing and growth. Children visit their birth family until they can be reunited, or until parental rights are terminated. If parental rights have been terminated, the children live in foster homes while waiting for an adoptive home. Sometimes the foster family becomes the adoptive family.

What other support is available to foster parents/families?

Foster parents work with a team of people to care for their foster children. This team may consist of social workers, a therapist, court representatives, family members, school professionals and others who have an interest in the well-being of the foster children in their care. Each foster family is assigned to an experienced social worker that visits regularly and provides support and consultation during the entire time of placement. Foster families receive 14-days of respite care (days off during which other foster parents care for the foster children). Foster parent support groups are also available.

Who are foster parents?

Foster parents:

  • Are willing to commit to caring for, loving and nurturing foster children for a limited time
  • Help foster children develop physically, mentally and socially, according to their needs
  • Work with a network of professionals who are involved with the foster child and his/her family
  • Mentor birth parents who are working toward reunification with their children
  • Help foster children transition back to their parents’ home, to a permanent home of a relative, or to an adoptive home
  • Enjoy the challenges and rewards that come from helping the foster children develop self-esteem and a healthy perspective on life
  • Offer commitment, patience and compassion to the foster children in their care
  • Share their hearts, their homes and their families
  • Are open-minded, persistent and vital members of the foster child’s treatment team.

What are the requirements for foster parents/families?

Prospective foster parents may be married or single and must:

  • Live within a 60-mile radius of the program office
  • Be at least 21-years old, responsible and financially stable
  • Live in a home that meets fire-safety codes and has appropriate sleeping space
  • All household members who are 13-years old or older must submit to a complete criminal history and background check
  • Provide three character references
  • Complete an application for foster care
  • Participate in a home-study that includes an interview with all household members
  • Provide a physician’s statement of good health
  • Attend ongoing training to learn more about related issues including first aid and CPR
  • Attend monthly foster parent support groups.

How does someone become a foster parent/family?

The first thing a prospective foster parent can do to be considered for licensing is to contact the Therapeutic Foster Care program office at 952-945-4168 to indicate an interest in becoming a foster parent. One of our licensing social workers will conduct a brief telephone interview with the prospective foster parent and mail initial information on the Foster Care program. Next, prospective foster parents are invited to an informational meeting. After this meeting, interested parties are given a packet, which includes all of the forms and applications necessary to become a foster parent. Once the prospective foster parents complete and return these forms, a background search is performed on all family members (or others) who live in the home. Additionally, a home study is conducted to determine whether the prospective foster parents’ home meets standard guidelines for foster parent licensing. This study consists of several interviews with all individuals in the prospective foster parents’ home, as well as an inspection of the home for potential safety issues. Prospective foster parents must also participate in pre-service training, which will help to prepare them for being successful foster parents.

What is the greatest need of Therapeutic Foster Care?

We need foster families who can provide stability and a nurturing home for teenagers who have high emotional and behavioral needs. We also need foster families who can provide care for large sibling groups. VOA-MN provides both training and support to foster families.

How long does the process of becoming a licensed foster parent/family take?

Typically, the process of becoming a licensed foster parent takes from two to three months due to preparation time, training, background checks and home study activities, which must be completed prior to licensing..

How are children referred to Therapeutic Foster Care Program?

Children are typically referred to VOA-MN Therapeutic Foster Care by a county social worker.