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All Rights Reserved
Table of Contents
Assessment And Licensing
Child Passenger Restraint Training Requirements
Clothing, Possessions, Gifts, Allowances
Confidentiality and Data Privacy
Family Visitation and Communication
Foster Family Move
Foster Parent Documentation Requirements
Foster Parent Educational Support
Specific Training Requirements
Infant/Young Children Placements
Sudden Unexpected Infant Death and Abusive Head Trauma Training Requirement
Insurance for Foster Parents
Leave of Absence
Maltreatment of Vulnerable Adults Reporting Policy
Medical Equipment and Training
Medical, Dental and Optical Care
Respite Care/Substitute Care
Roles and Relationships
Supervision of and/or Contact with Children/Youth in Care
Technology for Children’s Health
Youth and Adult Assistance Requirements and Compensation
Assessment And Licensing
Family Alternatives is licensed to assess, recommend licensure, and provide education to child foster care applicants. The foster parent assessment team is responsible for assessing and making recommendations regarding licensure to the state. The purpose of the assessment process is to evaluate a prospective foster family’s background, skills, strengths and challenges. The home is inspected to ensure compliance with Department of Human Services rules and State Fire Marshal inspection criteria.
When more than one parent resides in the home, Family Alternatives requires that both, married or unmarried, be assessed in order to become licensed as foster care providers. If an applicant has a significant relationship with another adult and that individual will have ongoing and/ or unsupervised contact with children in care, the applicant must notify Family Alternatives. The social worker will follow the Household Policy.
- Individuals interested in becoming licensed foster parents must complete Family Alternatives Inquiry Form, which is submitted to Family Alternatives Recruitment Coordinator. Interested families must indicate two years of full-time experience caring for or working with the needs of children in foster care. https://www.familyalternatives.org/_documents/inquiryform.pdf
- Following the submission of the Inquiry Form, Family Alternatives Recruitment Coordinator will arrange a visit with the applicant to assess the physical environment for safety.
- Following the initial home visit, the Recruitment Coordinator will give all information to the Licensing Coordinator.
All applicants will complete Family Alternatives orientation classes prior to licensing. Families will be notified of scheduled orientation sessions and informed of specific education requirements.
The Recruitment Coordinator and Licensing Coordinator will determine orientation requirements for applicants currently or previously licensed. Every applicant must complete a minimum of 6 hours of Family Alternatives orientation education. Rules and Policies, Normalcy and Reasonable and Prudent Parent Standard, and Mental Health are required for all applicants, regardless of previous education completed. All orientation completed must be entered into the database in the education section by the Family Alternatives Licensing Coordinator.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Education Requirements – Within the first 12 months of licensure, one hour of annual training must be completed on fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. This is in addition to the number of training hours required. After the first 12 months of licensure, one hour of training on fetal alcohol spectrum disorders is required annually, which can be included in the agency’s required training.
Age Specific Education Requirements
Child Passenger Restraint: Child passenger restraint training is required every five years. Applicants who have previously completed child passenger restraint that expires within the first year of licensing with Family Alternatives must renew the training prior to licensing. Family Alternatives Licensing Coordinator will provide a resource to complete this training during the orientation process.
SUID/AHT Training: A resource for this training can be found at: http://www.dhs.state.mn.us/main/idcplg?IdcService=GET_DYNAMIC_CONVERSION&RevisionSelectionMethod=LatestReleased&dDocName=dhs16_188848
Maltreatment of Vulnerable Adult: A resource for this training can be found at http://registrations.dhs.state.mn.us/WebManRpt/
Background Study Requirements
All individuals in an applicant’s home over the age of 13 (10 thru 12 when there is cause) must complete the NetStudy 2.0 background procedure prior to licensure. The Family Alternatives Licensing Coordinator will supply applicants with the necessary paperwork and walk them through the requirements, including required timelines. Background study results will be reviewed by the Licensing Coordinator and the assessor and a supervisor consulted if clearance is not received.
Home Study Assessment
The Home Study Assessment interview consists of questions including, but not limited to experiences, values, and personal history. In addition to assessing the family, the physical structure of the home will be inspected to insure the premises are reasonably clean and neat, and free from hazards to insure health and safety.
The capacity of the foster home is based upon the licensing rule, physical space available in the home, the number of children currently in the home and foster parent’s schedules, skills and availability.
When the assessment process is complete, the social workers and a supervisor will make a decision regarding recommendation for licensure. The recommendation will be made to the Department of Human Services within 20 days. Decisions may be appealed, and applicants will be advised of appeal procedures. Foster parents recommended for licensure will receive a license in the mail from DHS.
Once an application is signed, applicants have a right to withdraw only prior to submitting a background study, or following receipt of a Background Study Clearance Letter. Applicants cannot withdraw while a background study is in process or upon receiving notification of a disqualification.
Individuals to be Studied:
According to 245C.03 Subdivision 1 for licensed programs, the Commissioner shall conduct a background study on:
1) the person or persons applying for a license;
2) an individual age 13 and over living in the household where the licensed program will be provided who is not receiving licensed services from the program;
3) current or prospective employees or contractors of the applicant who will have direct contact with persons served by the facility, agency, or program;
4) volunteers or student volunteers who will have direct contact with persons served by the program to provide program services if the contact is not under the continuous, direct supervision by an individual listed in clause (1) or (3);
5) an individual age ten to 12 living in the household where the licensed services will be provided when the commissioner has reasonable cause;
6) an individual who, without providing direct contact services at a licensed program, may have unsupervised access to children or vulnerable adults receiving services from a program, when the commissioner has reasonable cause*; and
7) all managerial officials as defined under section 245A.02, subdivision 5a.
Per Family Alternatives policy, all substitute caregivers providing direct contact services for a child are required to receive a background study.
*Reasonable cause means information or circumstances exist which provide articulable suspicion that further pertinent information may exist concerning an individual. There is reasonable cause when, but not limited to, receiving a report from the individual, the license holder, or a third party indicating the individual has a history that would disqualify the individual or that may pose a risk to the health or safety of children in care.
NetStudy 2.0 Guidelines
As of December 2016 Family Alternatives is required to follow the protocol and procedures outlined in NetStudy 2.0 in completing all background studies.
The Licensing Coordinator will facilitate all background studies for foster care applicants. The family’s licensing worker will obtain the required paperwork for a licensed family requiring an additional background study and provide it to the Licensing Coordinator.
Foster Family Responsibilities
The foster parent must inform their Family Alternatives worker of the need for a background study. The licensing worker will notify the Licensing Coordinator who will initiate a background study for persons who meet the criteria noted above. Family Alternatives will supply the necessary documentation to the foster family to begin the paperwork for a background study.
The foster family and licensing worker must follow timelines and documentation requirements as designated in the Household Membership policy.
Licensing Coordinator Responsibilities
The Licensing Coordinator will instruct the family on the necessary steps to complete the process, and will enter the information onto the DHS website.
The study subject and Family Alternatives will receive written notification of the outcome from DHS. When background study results are received indicating any outcome other than total clearance the Licensing Coordinator and a supervisor will review the information, and the family will be contacted.
Child Passenger Restraint Training Requirements
Foster Care Licensees and Substitute Care Providers who provide care for children under age nine must satisfactorily complete training on the proper use and installation of child restraint systems in motor vehicles. The training must be at least one hour in length and repeated every five years. The training must be provided by certified individuals and approved by the Department of Public Safety, Office of Traffic Safety. A person who has met child passenger restraint training requirements must take responsibility for securing the child whenever a driver has not been trained.
Family Alternatives workers will direct foster parents to Child Passenger Restraint classes that meet criteria.
The Minnesota Department of Human Services requires a $200 fine for any foster parent with children in care under age 9 without documentation of child passenger restraint training. Family Alternatives must recommend the fine to DHS after allowing a reasonable amount of time for the foster parent to participate in the training.
Foster parents and other individuals driving children in care are required to comply with current Minnesota State Law regarding child passenger safety, including booster seat requirement for children up to age 9 or 4 feet 9 inches tall.
Clothing, Possessions, Gifts, Allowances
Foster parents are responsible for providing children/youth with clothing that fits, is in good condition and is weather appropriate throughout placement. All foster parents must complete a written inventory of each child’s wardrobe and belongings at placement and at discharge (Foster Child Minimum Clothing Standards and Possessions List). Foster parents are allowed to fill out and email the document as long as only a child’s initials are noted (not the entire name). Clothing Inventory forms are available at: https://familyalternatives.org/forms/
Initial Clothing Allowance
At the time of placement, the Family Alternatives social worker will ask the county social worker the amount of clothing money available for each child and the county’s policy on supplying receipts. The county will be billed accordingly in compliance with county policy.
Family Alternatives will pay foster parents $250 clothing allowance once a clothing inventory is completed and submitted to the Family Alternatives worker. If the clothing allowance provided by the county is more than $250, Family Alternatives will forward the balance to the foster family upon receipt. When a youth is moved from one Family Alternatives home to another, the new foster parent will receive a clothing allowance of $100.00.
Following the initial clothing allowance, the clothing and equipment needs of the youth are the responsibility of the foster family and are included in the per diem rate. Family Alternatives follows Hennepin County guidelines for the amount of money to be spent, which is approximately: age 0 – 11; $110, age 12-14; $135, age 15-18; $140 monthly.
All ongoing clothing needs are reimbursed through the per diem. Foster parents must retain clothing receipts for each child, indicating the amount spent on clothing. Receipts shall be maintained for two years and be available for review upon request. When the youth is discharged, the foster parent will give the Family Alternatives social worker the clothing receipts, for inclusion in the youth’s closed file.
When there are concerns about clothing, clothing inventories will be completed by the Family Alternatives social worker and reviewed with the foster parent and the youth in care.
Youth must be allowed to bring personal possessions, as agreed upon between the youth, the child’s parent, the placing agency, and the license holder, to the foster home and must be allowed to accumulate possessions to the extent the home is able to accommodate them. Foster parents may not dispose of or give away youth’s clothing or belongings without consulting the youth and support team members.
Gifts and Photos
It is expected that a portion of the per diem be used for gifts to acknowledge birthdays, holidays, accomplishments and significant events. It is also strongly encouraged that photos (including annual purchase of school photos) be provided regularly and given to the youth at the time of discharge.
Allowance and Other Expenses
Foster parents are expected to pay fees for field trips, provide hair and skin care products and professional hair care as needed. Allowances are strongly encouraged for youth 10 years and older. The per diem payment is meant to include providing allowance and/or paying for youth’s involvement in community activities.
Pertaining to Youth in Care
The Minnesota Data Privacy Act mandates confidentiality of information and records, and imposes consequences for breach of confidentiality. It is expected that foster parents will consistently and uniformly maintain the privacy and confidentiality of information about youth in care. Confidentiality must be maintained before, during and following placement.
Confidential information can only be sent via e-mail if identifying information is not included, and there is a confidentiality statement attached to the email. Confidential information may not be faxed to fax machines with public access.
All information about children in care is confidential. Information regarding a child currently or formerly in care cannot be disclosed without a court order or a signed Support Team Release of Information Form. Confidential information about children in placement can only be shared for the purpose of treatment planning and support.
Pertaining to Foster Care Providers
Most information maintained on foster parents is public information. Exceptions to this include the following information: financial (such as income and location of bank accounts); insurance; Social Security Numbers; references; licensing investigation details; and background studies for anyone other than themselves. Family Alternatives, however, requests a signed Authorization for Release/Exchange of Child Foster Care Licensing Information Form and a valid reason to release data before any part of a foster parent file is disclosed to outside sources. When information is released, either through a court order or release of information form, confidential information about anyone other than the person who signed the release will be removed and/or redacted. All information regarding youth in foster care is private.
Foster parents can only see items in their file that pertain to them personally. If additional information is to be viewed, a signed release must be received from the person giving permission for their information to be shared. Before foster parents view their files, reference forms, information received from outside investigative bodies and the names of persons reporting in licensing complaints will be removed from the file.
Youth referrals will not be mailed, e-mailed or faxed to a foster parent at any time. Referral information that does not include identifying information can be e-mailed or left on voice mail. A social worker may bring a copy of a referral to a foster parent’s home to review the information regarding the child, but the referral copy will remain in the social worker’s possession at all times.
Planned Discharges to Permanency
Family Alternatives foster parents, social workers and practitioners work with youth, children and all support team members to provide quality care and services in order to facilitate placement stability. Beginning with the matching process, the goal is to build supportive relationships to promote planned discharges.
Discharge from foster care is dependent on a child’s legal custodian acting to correct identified issues or conditions within a period of time, or on finding a permanency resource. The goal is to experience safety and stability by remaining in the initial foster home placement until placement goals are met. Foster parents must work with Family Alternatives and the child’s placing agency to ensure a planned discharge and compliance with Minnesota Statutes, section 260C.212. A plan for discharge will be made, including ongoing support needed by the child, formal respite and informal ongoing contact and support.
Foster parents and Family Alternatives workers must provide the placing county social worker written 30-day notice when requesting a child’s removal from the home. This requirement will only be waived when immediate removal is necessary to protect health and safety of the child and/or other persons living in the home. Law enforcement and/or mental health professionals will determine necessity.
When a child is to be moved from a placement, the placing agency worker is responsible to make alternative placement decisions. For children whom Hennepin County is the placing agency, the required referral process must be followed prior to placement in another Family Alternatives licensed foster home.
Before an unplanned discharge not related to emergency safety, the placement support team will follow a review process detailed in Minnesota Rules, part 2960.3080, subpart 11. This does not apply to a child removed by the placing authority or a parent or guardian.
Foster parents who wish to revoke 30-day notice after notifying Family Alternatives and the placing agency must do so in writing. In this case a plan must be developed by the support team to assure services and care that will support viability/success in order for the placement to continue.
There are times when foster parents, Family Alternatives or the county determine that a placement is detrimental or even harmful for the child/youth and/or the family. The foster parent must notify a Family Alternatives worker, who will notify the county social worker, supervisor or after-hours agency. Immediate discharges are only approved when the child is in imminent danger of harming self or others or doing significant property damage. Law enforcement or mental health professionals usually make this determination. The Family Alternatives worker will notify the county social worker at the time the child is removed from Family Alternatives care.
At times immediate respite in another Family Alternatives home is the best course of action, and Family Alternatives staff may authorize respite. However all official long-term placement determinations must be made by the placing county.
Child Absent from the Home
Whenever a child in placement is unexpectedly out of the foster home foster parents must notify Family Alternatives and the placing county immediately. This includes situations where children are absent from the foster home either without foster parent permission (on-run, not returned from visitation) or in cases of emergencies (hospitalization, arrest or detention).
The county social worker must be contacted within one business day to determine the status of the placement. If a response is not received from the county social worker within three business days, the child will be discharged using the date the child left the home. Continued payment or a bed hold must be authorized in writing by the county supervisor, defining the time frame for the authorization.
Hennepin County Bed Hold
The Family Alternatives worker must notify Hennepin County Human Services and Public Health Department of the need for a bed hold within one business day after the child leaves the foster home. The Hennepin county social worker may approve payment for bed holds of children in placement for up to five calendar days when the client is absent from the foster home and is expected to return. Bed holds for longer than five days must be approved in writing by the county social worker’s Program Manager. Approved bed holds will be reimbursed the full administrative, room and board, and either DOC or MAPCY rate per day. The agreement to pay and the number of days is determined by HSPHD bed hold policy and is subject to change. Bed holds do not apply to children placed by Hennepin County DOCCR (Department of Corrections).
When a county approves a bed-hold the Family Alternatives worker will immediately notify the foster parent and complete internal requirements in order for payment to be made.
1. Follow the Clothing and Possession Policy
When a child leaves the foster home, all belongings must be sent within a time frame agreed upon, and documented onto a Clothing Inventory Form . This includes, but is not limited to all clothing, toys, personal objects, monies and gifts. A book or box containing special school papers, art work, photographs, and keepsakes etc. should be given to the child providing a history of the time they spent within the foster family.
2. Submit all written documentation to Family Alternatives for storage
All written information or documentation, including clothing receipts, must be given to the Family Alternatives social worker to be included in the child’s closed file, as this is confidential information.
Family Alternatives Workers:
1. Coordinate the exact discharge date with the county to assure accurate billing and payment
2. Send a comprehensive Discharge Summary outlining the youth’s progress, services provided, ongoing needs and recommendations to the county.
Family Alternatives will only allow a variance for a dual Adult Foster Care/Child Foster Care license in situations where a foster family is committed to a youth who is aging out of child foster care, and intends for the youth to remain in their home. Counties are solely responsible for Adult Foster Care Licensing, and only the Minnesota Department of Human Services can issue variances for a dual adult and child foster care license (Minnesota Rule Chapter 2960). Family Alternatives will work with the foster family’s county and DHS to facilitate licensing and variance approval.
Family Alternatives does not allow a family to hold dual Family Child Care/Child Foster Care Licenses under any conditions.
In a medical emergency, seek immediate professional medical care for the child. Inform the doctor or the hospital that you are a foster parent and do not have the authority to give medical consent. A parent or legal guardian must give consent . Foster Parents are given A Child Youth Consent Form signed by the youth’s legal guardian, which should be presented to medical providers for all routine and emergency care.
Contact your Family Alternatives social worker as soon as you are able to do so. The Family Alternatives worker will notify the emergency contacts as noted in the youth’s file. If your Family Alternatives social worker is unavailable during business hours, call the agency and notify the coverage worker or a supervisor. After business hours, foster parents must contact another worker or supervisor at home. In a life-threatening situation, medical providers have the authority to perform life-saving interventions without consent. A foster parent must never sign for medical care for a child in care.
Complete an incident report following any medical emergency. Go to
https://www.familyalternatives.org/forms – Download Incident Report Form. This form can be completed and sent electronically only when the youth’s initials are used in place of his or her name and date of birth. An alternative is to request a hard copy of the form, complete and either fax or give the form to your Family Alternatives worker.
RUNAWAY CHILD: Immediately report a runaway child to the Family Alternatives social worker. The social worker will inform the county social worker who may notify the child’s legal guardian.
When a child is under 13, the foster parents will also immediately call the police. When a youth is over 13, and runs away during daylight hours, the foster family has the option to wait four hours to call the police, provided they have discussed it with their social worker. Once a report has been filed with law enforcement, the foster parent will be given a warrant or case number that should be forwarded to the Family Alternatives worker. If a child returns, the foster family will notify their Family Alternatives social worker and the police immediately.
MISSING CHILD: The police, Family Alternatives social worker and the youth’s legal guardian must be notified immediately when a child in care is missing.
THREATENING BEHAVIOR: Behavior that poses a danger to persons living in the foster home should be reported to the police and the Family Alternatives worker immediately.
In the above situations, if your Family Alternatives worker is not available during business hours, call the agency and notify the coverage social worker or a supervisor. After business hours, foster parents must contact another worker or supervisor. Foster parents are provided a list of agency workers and supervisors listing office, home and cell phone numbers. All emergencies need to be followed up with a written incident report Incident Report Form. Incident Report Forms must be completed by the foster parent and mailed to the Family Alternatives social worker within 24 hours as a follow-up to a telephone report.
Family Visitation and Communication
Placement in foster care can cause or trigger trauma responses in youth. Maintaining regular and frequent contact with family members while living apart can often help reduce traumatic effects. Minnesota Statute requires family visitation for any child living in foster care unless contact is determined to put the child at risk. Research links the frequency of visitation with improved child well-being and family reunification rates.
Foster parents and social workers must support the family visitation and communication plan developed by the placing agency and/or required by court order. During placement support plan meetings, support team members will discuss and establish a plan for visits and communication with children’s parents, siblings, extended family and/or significant people. Foster parents are expected to help facilitate family visitation and communication by providing rides and supporting phone calls (including long distance), face time or texting as agreed. Additional contacts such as health care appointments, school/athletic/church/community events, and/or other meetings between youth and family will be discussed and expectations outlined during placement support plan meetings.
Foster parents need to communicate positively with children regarding their family members and relationships. Rule 2960.3080 prohibits foster parents from making derogatory statements about the child or child’s family. Concerns or questions about visitation or contacts should be discussed with the Family Alternatives social worker and other support team members as appropriate.
Foster parents are not required to supervise visits. When foster parents agree to supervise family visits, clear expectations must be developed and there must be an understanding of documentation requirements.
There are times youth in care request or already have contact and/or relationships with parents whose parental rights have been terminated. When this is the case, and the responsible county prohibits contact, the Family Alternatives social worker and foster parent may advocate for safe and sanctioned contact. Children’s Law Center attorneys http://www.clcmn.org/ may be available to youth who do not have an attorney assigned. It is essential that the social worker request supervisor support and guidance in any situation outside the county’s plan.
Weapons and ammunition on foster home premises must be stored separately from each other. Weapons and ammunition must be stored, locked, and inaccessible to children at all times. Keys to storage space must also be inaccessible. All guns must have trigger locks.
A foster parent with a concealed-carry permit must maintain compliance with firearm storage requirements at all times. A variance is required for any foster parent with a concealed-carry permit. The Variance Request Form, available on the DHS Family Systems Table of Contents (A19 Variance Request- Form (DHS 3141) (6-07), must be completed and signed by the foster parents and address how granting a variance will not negatively affect the health or safety of children in care. The variance request will be reviewed and a determination made whether to approve or deny in consultation with a supervisor.
Any foster parent using a firearm with a child in care present must have written permission from the legal guardian. Written permission must be in the child’s file.
All local and state laws must be followed before allowing a youth in care to use a weapon. This includes firearms, air guns, BB guns, bow and arrows, tomahawks and knives. A foster parent may only allow a youth to use a weapon of any kind when these conditions are met:
1. Written permission from the youth’s legal guardian.
2. Youth’s successful completion of a state certified gun safety program (for gun use).
3. A trained and responsible adult present during use.
Foster Family Move
Change of Premise
When a foster family moves to a new residence, the license remains open. The license number will remain the same and a new version of the license will be issued for the new location.
Foster families are expected to notify Family Alternatives in writing at least 60 days in advance of a planned move. Support team members must be notified, and permission sought for youth in care to move with the foster parent. There may be times the county will not allow the child to remain in placement with the family if they move. This is usually determined by the impact of the distance of the family’s move.
When notified by a foster family of the location of the new residence, the licensing worker will notify the Re-licensing Coordinator who will inspect the prospective home using the Home Safety Checklist to assure it meets licensing standards. http://www.dhs.state.mn.us/main/groups/county_access/documents/pub/dhs16_193585.pdf The Re-licensing Coordinator will determine whether a Fire Marshal Inspection is required based on criteria in 2960.3050 Subpart 1.
Foster parents are required to complete the following forms prior to moving. The forms will be provided by Family Alternatives or can be accessed via the Internet as indicated:
- Application for Child Placement (DHS-4258A)
- Family Systems Supplemental License Application
- Floor Plan/Emergency Procedure (DHS-2720)
- Minnesota Adoption and Foster Care Individual Fact Sheet (DHS 4258B)
- Minnesota Adoption and Foster Parent Family Disaster Plan (DHS 4258F)
Change of Agency
Families in the midst of negative licensing action (including the recommendation phase) are not allowed to close their license and cannot apply to another child foster care agency until a licensing determination has been made by DHS.
When a provider applies to another child foster care agency, a Release of Information will be signed with the other agency and provided to Family Alternatives. Within 10 working days, the Family Alternatives worker will send information requested by the agency. Reference letters, identifying information about youth in care and information about persons other than those authorizing the release of information will not be released.
Foster Home Supervision and Support by Family Alternatives Worker and Interns
Family Alternatives is licensed by the Minnesota Department of Human Services to recruit, license, train, support and monitor foster care providers. The Family Alternatives worker is accountable for maintaining consistent personal, phone and electronic contact with foster parents and youth in care as a means of ensuring health and safety and foster parent compliance with DHS Rules and Regulations and Family Alternatives Policies and Procedures.
The Hennepin County Contract sets the following requirements:
- Youth with a DOC assessed between 0 and 140 points or a MAPCY assessed between level B and G will receive Specialized (Level 1) Foster Care services, which include:
- At least twice monthly face-to-face contact by the Family Alternatives worker with foster parent
- At least once monthly face-to-face contact by the Family Alternatives worker with youth in care
- Twice monthly progress reports on the child by the foster parent resulting in written documentation (Family Alternatives worker case notes sufficiently meet this requirement)
- Providing monthly support groups and/or other approved support services for foster families
- Twenty-four-hour availability of Family Alternatives program staff
Youth with a DOC assessed between 141 and 225 points or a MAPCY assessed between H and Q will receive Intensive (Level 2) services, which include:
- 2 additional respite care days monthly paid by Family Alternatives
- At least one weekly face-to-face or telephone contact by Family Alternatives worker with foster parent, with a minimum of twice monthly face-to-face contact by the Family Alternatives worker with the foster parent
- At least twice monthly face-to-face contact by the Family Alternatives worker with the youth
- Weekly progress reports on the youth by the foster parent to the placing agency, resulting in written documentation (intensive Reports)
- Providing twice monthly support groups and/or other approved support services for foster families
- Twenty-four hour availability of Family Alternatives program staff
The Family Alternatives worker’s visit with foster parents will provide supervision and support and assure licensing standards are met. The Family Alternatives worker’s visit with children in placement will assess the quality of care and the child’s ongoing needs and progress toward placement goals.
At least one monthly contact must occur in the foster home. The Family Alternatives worker will meet privately, ideally away from the foster home, with any verbal foster child at least quarterly.
In addition to sharing child related information regarding children in placement, foster parents must inform the Family Alternatives social worker of the following:
- any addition to the household including any person with ongoing and/or unsupervised contact with children in care
- change of address (prior to moving)
- change of phone number or email
- major illness/injury of anyone in the household
- change in foster parent work status
- change in foster parent marital/partner status
- law enforcement contact with anyone in the household
- change in makeup of household
The occurrence of an incident that may impact license status or caring for children in the home must be reported within 24-hours to Family Alternatives with the exception of change of address, which must be reported prior to moving.
Foster parents are required to keep a file on every youth in placement containing all written information the foster parent generates or receives on the youth. Youth confidentiality must be maintained by securely storing youth files where they are inaccessible to household members. Youth files maintained by foster parents must include grievance records including documentation of resolutions. Documentation must be maintained in accordance with the Support Team plan, and expectations will be reviewed regularly at Support Plan or Circle meetings and changed as needed.
Intensive Services Reports
Foster parents are required to complete and submit weekly progress reports for children/youth receiving Intensive Services.
Foster parents must complete and submit the Foster Child Minimum Clothing Standards and Possessions List at the time of placement and discharge.
Foster Child Minimum Clothing Standards and Possessions List
Discharge Documentation Requirements
When a child leaves the foster home any written information or documentation, including clothing receipts, must be given to the Family Alternatives worker within two weeks of discharge.
Foster parents must maintain records of trainings in which they participate. Training will be reviewed at each re-licensing (on-year and off-year).
Foster parents must maintain records in compliance with the Maltreatment of Vulnerable Adults policy.
Each foster parent is required to obtain educational support annually.
Requirements for educational support:
- Mental Health Requirement – Mental Health Requirement – Two hours of training approved by Family Alternatives must be completed prior to licensing. This initial training must be documented in the applicant’s file using the Initial Children’s Mental Health 2-hour Training Form.
Licensed foster parents must complete one hour of mental health training approved by Family Alternatives annually.
- Prudent Parenting Requirement – Must be completed prior to licensing.
- Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Education Requirements – Within the first 12 months of licensure, one hour of annual training must be completed on fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. This is in addition to the number of training hours required. After the first 12 months of licensure, one hour of training on fetal alcohol spectrum disorders is required annually, which can be included in the agency’s required training.
To complete this requirement foster parents will watch the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Training Video and complete the FASD Post-Testand Certificate of Completion and submit both to Family Alternatives social worker.
Age-specific Education Requirements
Foster parents and the Family Alternatives Licensing Worker will develop an Education Plan annually, which will be documented on the Homestudy Assessment Update (DHS 4258E).
Family Alternatives provides in-agency education in compliance with licensing rules and an education allowance for education outside of Family Alternatives. Education outside of Family Alternatives must be approved in advance by the licensing social worker. A maximum of 6-hours education can be received for books, instructional DVDs and/or CDs (the limit does not apply to online learning such as Foster Parent College or webinars) In the event this form of education is approved, foster parents will submit a brief summary of the content, or a completion certificate.
Foster parents will keep records of their education, and are responsible to provide documentation to the Re-licensing Social Worker. Family Alternatives maintains records of foster parents attending Family Alternatives sponsored trainings, and documented training information provided by foster parents to Family Alternatives.
Foster parents will receive education hours for participation in the following*:
- 3 hours for attendance at Family Alternatives Annual Dinner
- 2 hours for attendance at Family Alternatives Roller Skating Party
- 2 hours for attendance at Family Alternatives Cookout
*A maximum of 4 education hours annually for participation in these events is allowed.
Up to six excess training hours can be carried over into the next year. Using hours earned in the previous licensing year must be approved by the family’s Licensing Worker.
Trauma Educational Support Groups
Family Alternatives supports foster parents in understanding and providing Trauma Informed Care. Family Alternatives coordinates Trauma Education Support groups and seminars, which are facilitated by trauma experts from a variety of specialties. Foster parents receive education hours for participation in Trauma Education Support groups, and these trainings meet DHS Mental Health training requirements. At least six hours of foster parent annual education requirements must include Family Alternatives Trauma Informed Care.
Expenses for education are reimbursable up to $500 per foster parent per licensing year. Respite only families will be reimbursed up to $200.
Foster parents’ education allowance may be used for:
- Pre-approved education
- Airfare, lodging costs and conference fees
- Child-care expenses while attending education or support meetings (maximum of $10 per hour per child, not to exceed $20 per hour regardless of the number of children without prior authorization from Family Alternatives Social Worker)
Foster parents’ education allowance may not be used for:
- Overnight accommodations for education held in the greater Twin Cities area
- Travel mileage reimbursement for meetings sponsored by Family Alternatives
Educational expenses may be pre-paid directly to the educational resource, or foster parents may be reimbursed after providing receipts and a certificate of completion. Education expenses for reimbursement must be submitted within 30 days of the education. If foster parents fail to provide documentation of completion for pre-paid education, Family Alternatives may require reimbursement.
Eligibility for Education Funds
Foster families who have not had a youth placed or provided respite in their home within the past 365 days are not eligible to use education funds.
Failure to meet Education Requirement
A foster family may request a variance for meeting the total number of education hours. Variances are granted based on experience and mitigating factors. Variances are not allowed for topics required in statute, including child passenger restraint training, sudden unexpected infant death (SUID), abusive head trauma (AHT), children’s mental health, Maltreatment of Vulnerable Adults and FASD trainings. All variances must be approved and signed by a supervisor.
Step 1: A Correction Order will notify the family that education requirements must be met within three months. Foster parents may not accept youth for placement/shelter, including new respite, until their training is completed.
Step 2: If after three months, education requirements remain unmet, a second correction order or a variance will be issued in accordance with step 1. Placement restrictions will continue.
Step 3: At six months, a variance or a recommendation for a fine of $200 will be considered when education requirements have not yet been met and two correction orders have been issued.
Step 4: If overdue and current education requirements are not met by the following licensing date, Family Alternatives will consult with DHS to determine further action.
In addition to completing overdue hours, foster parents are expected to meet current annual education requirements.
Foster Parent Payment
Per Diem Payments
Foster parents are paid for placements from the first date of placement to the final date of placement (day in, but not day out).
Difficulty of Care: Payment for care of children placed prior to 1/1/2015, who have consistently remained in the same placement are reimbursed under the Difficulty of Care payment system. The rate is reviewed annually by Hennepin County, and all counties are required to reassess the payment rate upon foster parent request.
MAPCY: Foster parent payment is determined by the age of the child, which is considered the Basic Maintenance Rate. In addition, MAPCY assessments are completed for every child, and for each new placement.
The placing county must complete a MAPCY assessment with the foster parents within the first 30 days of placement. MAPCY Supplemental Level Rates are determined based on the child’s needs. The Family Alternatives Licensing Worker will meet with foster parents within two weeks of placement to review the MAPCY using either the Child (0 – 12) or Youth (13 and older) MAPCY instrument prepared by Family Alternatives.
MAPCY Child Domains Ages 0-12
MAPCY Youth Domains Ages 13 and older
The foster parent can then use the prepared MAPCY when the county MAPCY assessor contacts them.
For youth in the first 30 days of an initial placement (youth who have never been placed prior to this placement) payment will be at MAPCY level D for the first thirty days of placement.
The foster parent must notify Family Alternatives when a MAPCY level has not been established within 45 days of placement. Their Family Alternatives worker will follow up with the MAPCY Coordinator.
MAPCY assessments are to be completed every six months. Foster parents may request assistance from their licensing worker to prepare for the review with the county. The entire MAPCY instrument should be reviewed with the county MAPCY assessor for all assessments and reassessments. Foster parents are able to request a reassessment whenever there is a change in the child/youth’s care needs.
Per Diem Decrease
When the foster parent reimbursement rate is decreased without notification to Family Alternatives, the Family Alternatives Licensing Worker will contact the county social worker to determine whether payment can or will be reset. Whenever foster parents have been overpaid, and the situation is not resolved with the county, foster parents will be notified and the per diem difference will be recouped from the foster parents by Family Alternatives.
Additional Child Care Expenses
Regular and routine expenses for care of children are reimbursed through the foster parent’s per diem. Some counties have funds available for extracurricular activities, bikes, camp, driver’s education, graduation expenses and vacation. Reimbursement or payment for these expenses requires pre-approval from the county social worker. The Family Alternatives worker will follow each county’s procedure for reimbursement. In most cases, Family Alternatives will bill for the expense, which sometimes requires the foster parent provide receipts.
Foster parents will be paid by check on the payment day immediately following Family Alternatives receiving reimbursement from the county.
Per diem: All foster parent payments must come through Family Alternatives. Foster parents are paid for placements by direct deposit by the 15th of every month for care provided the preceding month.
Paid respite: Paid respite is care provided for children placed in Family Alternatives homes. Respite payment can only be made when foster parents have received approval from Family Alternatives social workers in advance in accordance with requirements. Respite providers must meet fire marshal, child passenger restraint training, SUIDS/AHT, and capacity requirements.
Paid respite payment is made to respite providers by check, sent out weekly. Failure to notify the Family Alternatives worker in advance may result in no payment.
Medical Mileage: Foster parents can be paid mileage and parking for medical transportation by Medical Assistance.
Foster parents submit directly to MNET for reimbursement for health care mileage and parking fees incurred for youth covered by Medical Assistance.
For Foster Parents and Applicants
Licensing procedures set forth in DHS policies, must be followed for any license application or re-licensing matter, and supersede any internal procedures.
If a foster parent disagrees with an agency policy, decision, or service, a grievance may be filed within 30 days of the precipitating incident. Grievances are managed as follows:
Step 1: The foster parent will be invited to meet with the Family Alternatives social worker and the social worker’s supervisor within ten working days of the request to attempt to resolve the issue. The social worker will provide a written response within five working days of that meeting.
Step 2: If the issue is not resolved to the foster parent’s satisfaction, a meeting with Family Alternatives Executive Director, the supervisor, and the social worker may be requested. This meeting will be held within ten working days of the request and a written response will be provided within five working days of that meeting.
Step 3: If the issue is not resolved to the foster parent’s satisfaction, the parent has ten working days to request a meeting with Family Alternatives Board of Directors. The board must schedule a meeting within 30 days and provide a written response within 15 days of that meeting. If the board decides the grievance is a social work practice issue which cannot be resolved internally, it will contract with an outside, neutral, and informed party for arbitration.
For Youth in Care and Their Legal Guardians
Every foster family must have a written complaint and grievance procedure,
A32 Grievance Policy Sample for License Holder (2-13), which permits persons served by the program and their authorized representatives to bring a grievance to the highest level of authority in the program. The foster parent’s grievance procedure must be reviewed with and made available to youth in care and/or their family/legal representative. The Foster Parent Grievance Procedure will be discussed at initial Placement Support Plan meeting.
Foster parents are required to report to Family Alternatives and the child’s county social worker any written complaint or grievance from a youth, family member or legal representative, as well as reporting the resolution. Foster parents are required to supply the office phone numbers of all support team members to the youth and the youth’s family/legal representative upon request.
Foster parents must notify Family Alternatives prior to any change in household membership. A NetStudy 2.0 background study must be completed for all adults, all children 13 and older who are household members, and any child age ten to twelve with reasonable cause*. Family Alternatives must be notified prior to a non-household adult staying overnight in the foster home. All persons living in the foster parent’s household must be included on the Minnesota Adoption and Foster Care Application (DHS-4258A) H4b Family Systems FAMILY Child Foster Care 3324 (8-16) at the time of licensing and re-licensing.
Whenever possible, authorization for a NetStudy 2.0 background study must be completed prior to persons moving into the foster home. This includes any previous household member returning to the home after an absence of more than 120 days.
Background studies are never conducted for children or adults placed in foster care.
The Family Alternatives social worker, supervisor, and foster parent will discuss the role of adults living in the home, and determine whether the adult must complete licensure. A partner of a licensed provider taking a parenting role must undergo the licensing assessment process and meet all requirements to become a licensed provider. When a person is to be added to the license, follow the Assessment and Licensing Policy section on adding a household member to the license.
In the following circumstances, licensing action needs to be taken:
- A foster parent’s child is new to the home
- A child/youth/young adult remains in or returns to the foster home following discharge from foster care
- A youth is adopted by the foster parent
- The foster parent assumes Temporary Legal Custody (TLC) of a youth
- An adult moves into the foster home
The following actions must be completed either before or at the time of the youth/adult status or residence change:
- Individual Fact Sheet (age 18 or older) filled out and signed
- Updated Foster Parent Individual Fact Sheet (under 18) C14 Minnesota Adoption and Foster Care Individual Fact Sheet (11-16)
- NetStudy 2.0 CFC BGS Data Collection Form filled out, signed and turned into the Family Alternatives worker.
- Reviewed and signed Data Privacy Form
- Updated Statement of Intended Use (whenever the change will impact license capacity, type of care or age group) C1 CFC Statement of Intended Use (01-15)
The family’s assigned worker will assist through the process, including holding families accountable to timelines, Family Alternatives policies and DHS rule and law requirements.
*Reasonable cause means information or circumstances exist which provide articuable suspicion that further pertinent information may exist concerning an individual. There is reasonable cause when, but not limited to, receiving a report from the individual, the license holder, or a third party indicating the individual has a history that would disqualify the individual or that may pose a risk to the health or safety of children in care.
For Incidents Involving Youth in Care
In addition to immediately notifying the Family Alternatives worker (See Emergencies Policy), foster parents must complete, sign and submit an Incident Report Form within 24 hours of occurrence of any situation in the list below. This form can be completed and sent electronically as long as youth are identified by initials and age rather than full name and birthdate. Hard copies can be sent via mail or email to the Family Alternatives worker, or in non-urgent situations, an arrangement can be made for the Family Alternatives worker to pick up the report at a scheduled visit to the home.
- Run away
- Suicide threat or attempt
- Physical injury
- Property destruction
- Chemical abuse
- Weapon possession
- Law Enforcement Contact
- Out of control behavior
- Physical Fights
For Incidents Involving Foster Parents and/or Household Members
Foster parents must immediately report an incident or allegation regarding themselves and/or household members including:
- Arrest and/or police contact
- Driving violation impacting youth in care, the foster parent’s driver’s license, and/or the foster parent’s ability to provide care or transportation
- Medical emergency and hospitalization
- Child or adult protection report or allegation.
Sudden Unexpected Infant Death and Abusive Head Trauma Training Requirement
Minnesota Statutes, section 245A.50, requires Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID) and Abusive Head Trauma (AHT) education before caring for a child through five years of age. Foster parents must complete the training prior to noting this age group on their Statement of Intended Use form. Respite and Substitute Care Providers must have completed a minimum of one hour of SUID and AHT training prior to providing care.
A resource for this education is:
Foster parents must provide Family Alternatives with documentation of the training. Documentation can be obtained from the website and printed and signed following completion of the videos.
DHS requires SUID and AHT training be completed every five years.
Child Passenger Restraint Education
All foster parents whose population as denoted on their Statement of Intended Use includes children ages zero to nine years old must follow the Child Passenger Restraint Training Policy.
The DHS Home Safety Checklist Addendum requires that a safe crib be in use for children age birth to one. Prior to providing care to a child less than one year of age or including children less than one year of age on the Statement of Intended Use, the foster parent and a Family Alternatives worker must sign the Addendum signifying that a safe crib is used. The training video for SUID defines the elements of a safe crib.
All foster parents are required to carry adequate car and homeowner or renter’s insurance. (Renters insurance is required in order to provide youth in care with recourse if their belongings are damaged in a catastrophic event). Policy declaration pages, which include dates of coverage are collected at licensing and re-licensings. Umbrella policies are available as attachments to homeowner policies and protect foster parents in the event of a lawsuit regarding foster care and the actions of children in care. Foster parents should inquire of an insurance agent as to an adequate kind and amount of car and homeowner or renter’s insurance.
Coverage for Foster Parents provided by Minnesota Joint Underwriters Association
The State of Minnesota provides a damage insurance policy for all licensed foster homes through the Minnesota Joint Underwriters. Contact information for MJUA is 651-222-0484 and www.mjua.org.
Coverage Perimeters of MJUA
Minnesota Statute 245.814 LIABILITY INSURANCE FOR LICENSED PROVIDERS.
Subdivision 1. Insurance for foster home providers.
The commissioner of human services shall within the appropriation provided purchase and provide insurance to individuals licensed as foster home providers to cover their liability for:
(1) injuries or property damage caused or sustained by persons in foster care in their home; and
(2) actions arising out of alienation of affections sustained by the birth parents of a foster child.
Coverage shall apply to all foster homes licensed by the Department of Human Services to the extent that the liability is not covered by the provisions of the standard homeowner’s or automobile insurance policy. The insurance shall not cover property owned by the individual foster home provider, damage caused intentionally by a person over 12 years of age, or property damage arising out of business pursuits or the operation of any vehicle, machinery, or equipment.
Additional information is available at: www.mjua.org/uploads/5/7/7/2/57723685/foster_provider_liability_memo.pdf
Leave of Absence
A foster parent may request a leave of absence only when no children are in placement in the home. A leave of absence must be requested in writing and cannot exceed 12 months. The annual re-licensing must be completed during leave. The annual training requirement will be pro-rated according to the length of the leave; however, DHS training requirements in statute (Mental Health and FASD) may not be waived.
Investigations of Licensed Homes
Mandatory Reporting: Family Alternatives foster parents and social workers will adhere to Minnesota Statutes, section 626.556 Maltreatment of Minors and 626.55 Maltreatment of Vulnerable Adults. All reports concerning suspected abuse or neglect of children occurring within a foster home or in the community will be made to Child Protection in the county where the alleged abuse or neglect occurred. http://mn.gov/dhs/people-we-serve/children-and-families/services/child-protection/contact-us/.
All reports concerning maltreatment of vulnerable adults will be made to Common Entry Point. http://registrations.dhs.state.mn.us/WebManRpt/Who_CEP4.html
Family Alternatives Worker Role
Family Alternatives will take emergency measures to protect children in placement and will not under any circumstances inform foster parents of allegations prior to contact from the appropriate Child/Adult Protection agency. Family Alternatives will continue to respond to the foster parents about all other aspects of placements. The Family Alternatives worker will contact the county investigator in order to participate in interviews as allowed.
Family Alternatives workers will notify placing agency workers whenever a report is accepted for investigation by either Child/Adult Protection or the Minnesota Department of Human Services, as well as notifying placing workers of Family Alternatives licensing investigations. Notification to county placing workers includes all reports accepted for investigation, including those to counties outside of Hennepin County. The Family Alternatives worker will also notify the placing workers of the outcome of any investigation.
Family Alternatives will not refer foster homes while under investigation for maltreatment allegations, or during a licensing investigation.
Family Alternatives will take appropriate licensing actions when an investigation indicates maltreatment and/or licensing violations have occurred. A maltreatment finding is automatically a licensing violation and may be a disqualification as determined by DHS Background Studies Division.
Family Alternatives will not divulge the identity of a reporter of suspected abuse, neglect or licensing violations to foster parents.
Foster Parent Child Protection/Vulnerable Adult Reports
There are times foster parents receive information regarding possible child or vulnerable adult maltreatment. All suspected maltreatment must be reported to the county in which the suspected maltreatment occurred. There are times foster parents will be required to make a CP report about incidents that occur in their home. Family Alternatives workers will assist foster parents in understanding and making a CP/Vulnerable Adult maltreatment report. Reports can be made via the internet or phone call. All verbal reports must be followed up with a written report. Most counties have forms on their web site.
Licensing Investigation Process
Upon receipt of information of a possible licensing violation, Family Alternatives Inquiry Team will determine whether the information received warrants initiation of a licensing investigation. When determined necessary, Family Alternatives will conduct a thorough investigation in order to determine whether violations occurred, including:
1. Record possible licensing violations as indicated by the complaint information into Family Alternatives Complaint Log, noting specific rule and/or law citations.
2. Assign two workers, neither of who is the family’s licensing worker.
3. These workers schedule and conduct interviews with youth in care, collaterals and additional people who are noted to have information regarding the complaint. All of these interviews are conducted before informing the foster family of the complaint or allegation.
4. Invite foster parents to be interviewed
5. Review the information collected and make licensing determinations
6. Notify foster parents of licensing determinations:
Violation did not occur – A clearance letter is sent to the family
Licensing violation(s) did occur and are determined to be neither critical or chronic – Correction Orders are written and reviewed with the foster parent
Licensing Violation(s) did occur and are determined to be chronic and/or critical – A Negative Licensing Recommendation is submitted to DHS and the family is notified a recommendation has been made.
If an investigation report is unsubstantiated and no licensing violations have occurred, records will be kept in the foster parent file for a period of 4 years. If an investigation report is unsubstantiated, and licensing violations have occurred, records will be kept in the foster parent file indefinitely.
A correction order is an internal process used when a violation of the Licensing Rule or Family Alternatives policies or Foster Parent Contract/Agreement has been determined. A correction order will be completed and given to the foster parent within 45 days of a determination of a licensing violation. The correction order will inform parents of the right to request reconsideration of the correction order through DHS.
In order to maintain this as an internal process, all of the following conditions must be met:
1. The violation does not imminently endanger the health, safety, or rights of children in placement;
2. The violation is not serious or chronic; and
3. The violation will be corrected within a reasonable time.
A copy of the correction order will be kept in the foster parent’s file. A correction order will include a specific time period for correcting the violation.
Negative Licensing Recommendation
Negative action is a recommendation to DHS for denial, suspension, revocation, or conditional foster care licensing. The grounds for revocation or denial of a foster care license include, but are not limited to:
1. A disqualification under HSLA (Human Services Licensing Act) Chapter 245A, Subpart 3;
2. A false statement knowingly made by the license holder on the license application;
3. Failure or refusal to provide the Commissioner access to the home and adjoining property, documents, persons served, or staff;
4. Recurring failure to comply with standards in Licensing Rule;
5. Severe or recurring failure to comply with capacity limits
6. Licensing violations that occur while the license is conditional or suspended.
7. Suspension of a foster care license.
Family Alternatives must inform the foster parents of the recommendation for a negative licensing action in writing.
Written notice will be given to the parents or guardians of all the children in placement in that home. This notice must state that a negative licensing action has been recommended and that the foster parents will be informed of the Commissioner’s action on the recommendation. The county or counties with children in the foster home and the county in which the family resides must be notified if a negative licensing action has been recommended and again, following the DHS decision.
When the foster family is approaching the date of on year re-licensure at the time of an alleged violation and an investigation is in process, or when a negative licensing recommendation is pending, the Family Alternatives Re-licensing Coordinator will send a Request for Extension form to DHS. The only option to close a foster care license while a negative licensing action is in process is to request Closure Pending Investigation. This action allows DHS to follow through on a negative licensing action; however, the family is shown as closed on the DHS Licensing Lookup page. http://licensinglookup.dhs.state.mn.us/
The Department of Human Services will notify the foster parent and Family Alternatives of the decision regarding the negative licensing recommendation. The notification includes appeal rights, requirements and timelines.
FOSTER PARENT RIGHTS DURING INVESTIGATIONS
What are the rights of a licensed provider facing investigations? (Horowitz, Robert, Hardin, Mark, Muckley, Josephine. 1989.) Washington D.C.: American Bar Association.
1. Right to a confidential and discreet investigation.
2. Right to courteous investigation – without harassment or threats.
3. Right to see any private or public data about you.
4. Right to include in government data your own explanation.
5. Right to authorize other agencies or persons to see data about you.
6. Right to receive copies of data about you.
7. Right to challenge accuracy or completeness of data.
8. Right to supply separate data for the state to review.
9. Right to call or meet with individuals who work in the state department to discuss issue.
All youth in care over the age of 18 are considered to be vulnerable adults. All foster parents intending to serve vulnerable adults must establish and enforce written policies and procedures related to suspected or alleged maltreatment, and orient youth and mandated reporters who are under the control of the foster parent to these procedures. All foster parents who care for youth ages 18 to 21 must have a vulnerable adult reporting policy including the telephone number for the Common Entry Point posted in a prominent location and available upon request.
C1 CFC Statement of Intended Use (01-15)
Training Requirements & Timelines – Licensed Providers and Care Providers
Foster parents and each mandated reporter who supervises the young adults must complete vulnerable adult training within 72 hours of serving vulnerable adults and annually thereafter. Foster parents must complete the annual training prior to licensing and relicensing.
The training is available at
Orientation with Youth in Care
The foster parent must provide an orientation on the vulnerable adult reporting procedures to all 18 to 21-year-old youth receiving services within 72 hours of placement or of their 18th birthday. The orientation will include the telephone number for the Common Entry Point (844-880-1574).
All foster parents serving vulnerable adults will develop and enforce a household safety plan and create an individual safety plan with each youth ages 18 to 21. Individual and family prevention plans must be reviewed annually.
Foster parents must have a certificate of completion of their training and Vulnerable Adult Reporting Trainings in their Family Alternatives file. Foster parents must maintain records of training completed by each mandated reporter (anyone providing face-to-face care, supervision and/or medication assistance) who is under the control of the license holder.
Mandatory Reporter Definitions
All Family Alternatives foster parents and social workers are designated by Minnesota as Mandated Reporters. Mandated reporters are professionals or professional’s delegate identified by law who MUST make a report if they have reason to believe:
- Abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult has occurred.
- A child is being neglected or abused, or
- A child has been neglected or abused within the preceding three years.
- A woman is pregnant and has used a controlled substance for a non-medical purpose during the pregnancy
DHS has provided guidance for making reports on their website.
Mandated reporters must report information regarding children to the local police department, local welfare agency, or county sheriff within 24 hours. http://mn.gov/dhs/people-we-serve/children-and-families/services/child-protection/contact-us/.
All reports concerning maltreatment of vulnerable adults will be made to Common Entry Point. http://registrations.dhs.state.mn.us/WebManRpt/Who_CEP4.html
If a foster parent makes a report of suspected abuse of a child or vulnerable adult who is in foster care in a Family Alternatives home, the foster parent must then also report the information to Family Alternatives within 24 hours.
The immediate report to the police or social services department can be made via the internet by filling out forms provided on the county’s web site, or via phone. All oral reports must be followed by a written report to the same agency or department within 24 hours, exclusive of weekends and holidays. Some counties will provide the form to be completed.
The written report must include the child’s name, date of birth, and name of the child’s parent, guardian, or other person responsible for his or her care. The report must describe the complaint, the nature of any injuries and include the name and address of the reporter. Social workers will assist foster parents with reporting and follow up if requested. This form cannot be emailed because the report contains confidential and identifying information. It is permissible to fax the form to a secure fax as identified by the government entity to which the report is being filed.
A copy of the written report must be sent to Family Alternatives when it pertains to children in placement in Family Alternatives homes.
Persons making child/adult abuse/maltreatment reports are immune from any civil or criminal liability that may develop from the allegation if they are acting in good faith and exercise due care in making a report. Mandatory Reporters who fail to make a report can be found guilty of a misdemeanor. State statutes do not provide immunity to any person for failure to make a required report.
Any person who knowingly or recklessly makes a false report under the provisions of Minnesota law shall be liable in a civil suit for any damages suffered by the person or persons so reported and for any punitive damages set by the court or jury. The following are definitions of physical abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse:
PHYSICAL ABUSE: Any physical injury or mental injury or threatened injury inflicted on a child by other than accidental means by a parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the child’s care, or any physical injury or mental injury that cannot reasonably be explained by the child’s history of injuries.
NEGLECT: Failure by a parent, guardian, or other person responsible for a child’s care to supply a child with necessary food, clothing, shelter, or medical care when reasonably able to do so, or failure to protect a child from conditions or actions which imminently and seriously endanger the child’s physical or mental health when reasonably able to do so, and failure to take steps to ensure that a child is educated in accordance with state law. Neglect includes prenatal exposure to a controlled substance for a non-medical purpose.
SEXUAL ABUSE: Any sexual conduct as defined in Minnesota Criminal Sexual Conduct Statutes inflicted by parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the child’s care. Sexual contact includes intentional touching of genitals, groin, inner thigh, buttocks, or breast of the child with or without clothes on. Sexual penetration includes sexual intercourse, oral sex, anal intercourse, or any intrusion into genital or anal openings. Sexual abuse includes threatened sexual abuse.
CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE USE DURING PREGNANCY: A pregnant woman who has engaged during pregnancy in habitual or excessive use, for a non-medical purpose, of any of the following substances or their derivatives: opium, cocaine, heroin, phencyclidine, methamphetamine, amphetamine, tetrahydrocannabinol, or alcohol.
Whenever caring for a child who relies on medical equipment to sustain or monitor life the following is required:
1) The foster parent must have received training from a certified health care professional to operate the equipment the child needs. This training requirement must be reviewed and documented (using the DHS Foster Care Training and Skills Form) annually in the parent’s file. This includes all respite providers.
2) The foster parent must have completed training in the individual child’s particular needs. The child’s previous or current caregiver can provide this training.
No child requiring medical equipment to sustain or monitor life may be placed in any foster home without these requirements being met. This includes respite placements.
Do Not Resuscitate/ Do Not Intubate Orders
If a DNR/DNI order is in effect for a child in care, copies must be in the foster home and the child’s file. In the event of a life-threatening situation, the foster parent must call 911 and show emergency personnel the DNR/DNI order.
Foster parents are responsible for assessing and facilitating children’s routine and emergency health care and must keep a record for every child in care. This must include all medical information including a record of illnesses and dates health care was provided.
Family Alternatives and the foster parents will ensure that every child entering placement has a physical examination within 12 months prior to or 30 days after placement and at least annually thereafter. Documentation of physical examination information completed prior to placement must be secured from the placing county. If not secured, a physical examination must be scheduled within 30 days of placement.
Foster families must report all health care, including date, provider and pertinent information to the Family Alternatives worker. Specific information of health care examinations will be documented in support plans.
Dental Examination and Cleaning
Family Alternatives and the foster parents will ensure that every child entering placement has a dental examination within 6 months prior to or 30 days after placement and at least every six months for children three years of age and older. Once again, there must be documentation of dental examinations occurring prior to placement with Family Alternatives, or a dental examination and cleaning must be scheduled within 30 days of placement. Dental examinations for children age one to three should be discussed and determined by placement support team members.
When dental insurance does not cover examinations every six months, they may be done annually. In order to waive the biannual requirement, confirmation from the insurance or dental provider must be obtained and placed into the child/youth’s file.
Foster parents must report all dental care including date, provider and pertinent information to the Family Alternatives worker. Ongoing dental information will be documented in the child’s placement support plan and reviews.
Under special circumstances, MA will cover the cost of orthodontia and/or oral surgery. When a need has been determined, a specialist must be consulted, and the recommendations documented and followed.
Special Medical Needs
Foster parents must notify Family Alternatives of health care updates as they occur. The support team will identify and review the child’s specialized medical needs at each support plan meeting, determining and updating accountabilities necessary to assure the areas of concern are being addressed. This includes, but is not limited to, psychiatric, neurological, optical, cardiology, dermatology and orthopedic issues. Concerns, needs, accountabilities and updates must be documented in each placement support plan.
Every child in foster care is eligible for Medicaid (Medical Assistance Insurance). There are times the child’s legal guardian also carries medical insurance for the child/youth. Foster parents will be given the necessary insurance information at the time of placement. The county social worker will arrange for the foster parent to receive a medical assistance card. This insurance should be used whenever a child sees a health care provider. Some Medical Assistance PPOs or a parent’s health care plan may limit health care to certain providers. Medication and office copays, when not covered by medical assistance are not the responsibility of foster parents, and a plan for payment should be worked out at placement. If a bill is received, the family will contact the county social worker.
Some children may be covered on their parent’s health plan, which may limit health care to certain providers. Medication and office copays, when not covered by medical assistance are not the responsibility of the foster parents, and a plan for payment should be worked out at placement by team members. Under no circumstances should a foster parent pay a foster child’s medical bill. If a bill is received, the family will contact their social worker.
Consent for Treatment
Under no circumstances should a foster parent sign forms authorizing health care treatment. At the time of placement, the legal guardian is required to sign Family Alternatives Child/Youth Consent Form, which authorizes medical care. Foster parents are provided with a copy of the form and must bring a copy to all health care appointments.
Young Adults in Placement
When youth in care turn 18, foster parent requirements regarding health care accountabilities may change. Roles and responsibilities must be determined by the team during Youth in Transition Conferences, Circles of Support or Placement Support Plan meetings. These decisions must be documented on Family Alternatives documents. Foster parents are expected to provide coaching and guidance to emerging adults in assessing and meeting their medical and dental needs.
Medical Assistance reimburses foster parents for mileage and parking costs accrued for approved health care appointments for children in placement. The MNET Trip Log,
FamilyAlternatives.org – Parent Resources – Forms is submitted as instructed on the form. A separate form must be used for each child/youth.
There are times transportation with a medical transport company is arranged to provide transportation to health care appointments. For youth under 18 years old support team approval must be granted prior to setting up alternative medical transportation.
Medication must be administered by authorized care providers as prescribed by the child’s physician. Prescription medication must be given to the child exactly as prescribed, in individual doses, and may not be discontinued or altered without physician approval. All possible side effects must be reported to the prescribing physician. Over the counter medication must be administered in accordance with dosage instructions found on the container.
When a support team determines that documentation of medication administration is necessary, the foster parent must fill out the Family Alternatives Medication Sheet as each dose is administered. The form must be turned into the Family Alternatives worker monthly.
Medication to be administered during school hours must be provided to the school by the foster parent in an original prescription bottle. Schools require written authorization from the prescribing physician to administer the medication, and may ask for assistance in securing the authorization.
Medication must be inaccessible to children and vulnerable adults as determined by age and developmental/emotional abilities. Medication must not be stored with or next to food products (If refrigeration is necessary, medication must be in a well-marked container).
Schedule II controlled substances are prescription medications affecting mental activity, behavior or perception. Schedule II controlled substances must be stored in a locked area.
Physicians are required to secure written authorization from the legal guardian of the youth in care. Schedule II controlled substances are not to be used as punishment, convenience, as a program substitute, or in excessive quantities. Foster parents are not allowed to authorize medication prescriptions.
Schedule II controlled substances have added potential to cause adverse side effects. The child/youth’s reactions should be closely monitored, and communicated with the prescribing physician.
Family Alternatives goal is to match youth to the foster family with the skills and abilities to best meet the youth’s needs. Social workers will consider homes according to skills of the parents, availability, age and needs of the child, community and family resources available, and other children in the home.
Families to be considered for children in the following age groups must have completed the corresponding training prior to referral:
- Children under age six – Sudden Unexpected Infant Death and Abusive Head Trauma
- Children under age nine – Child Passenger Restraint Training
- Youth age 18 to 21 – Maltreatment of Vulnerable Adults Trainings
Family Alternatives workers refer children for possible placement only when they match criteria specified in the family’s Statement of Intended Use. Social workers cannot refer foster families who are under corrective action or negative licensing action.
Family Alternatives foster placements are initiated by the county of responsibility. Occasionally a county worker will have a specific Family Alternatives home in mind when making a referral, but usually the referral is open to all Family Alternatives families, as well as families licensed through other agencies. Family Alternatives workers will consider homes according to skills of the parents, capacity, age and needs of the child, community and family resources available, and other children in the home.
Homes considered are contacted by their licensing worker and information about the child from the referral is discussed. Whenever a family states an interest in having the youth placed in their home, the Family Alternatives worker notifies the placing county of the family’s interest. The next step is often to schedule a meeting in which additional information is discussed about the youth and the family in order to decide whether to proceed with a preplacement meeting/visit.
If a county contacts a foster parent directly, the foster parent must refer the person to their Family Alternatives worker to request placement for a child.
Pre-placements are meant to allow time for the youth and foster parent to get to know each other in order to determine whether placement is feasible. Depending on the child’s age and needs, brief visits may start (one to two hours) and may progress to more lengthy visits. Pre-placement visits are typically scheduled over a weekend. Following the visit, foster parents and youth are consulted regarding whether they would like to pursue placement.
It is often difficult for children younger than four years old to participate in pre-placements. Placements are often made following information sharing sessions. Family Alternatives goal is for foster parents to have as much information as possible in order to understand the child’s needs and determine their ability to meet those needs prior to children being moved.
Foster parents do not receive reimbursement for pre-placement visits that do not include an overnight stay. Pre-placements of three (3) days or less, foster parents will be reimbursed for each day. Pre-placements of four (4) days or more, foster parents will be reimbursed for each night. Pre-placements are billed at the base rate in accordance with the child’s age.
A placement date is determined as agreed upon by foster parents and the county. The foster parent must notify their Family Alternatives worker of placement arrangements. When a child is placed in a Family Alternatives foster home, foster parents must read, sign, and date the referral indicating they have received the information. Immediately upon placement, a Clothing Inventory must be completed, signed and submitted to the Family Alternatives worker. Family Alternatives initial clothing allowance will be issued once this is done.
The Family Alternatives worker will complete the Initial Placement Agreement and provide a copy to the foster parent within the week of placement to assure the child’s short-term needs are met.
Within 30 days of placement, the Family Alternatives social worker will coordinate and convene the first support team meeting in which a Placement Support Plan will be developed. This plan comprehensively identifies and addresses each youth’s strengths and needs in the following areas: Family Relationships; Education; Health; Legal Status and Permanency Plan; Foster Family and Community Relationships; Religion and Culture; Clothing and Equipment and Independent Living Skills (for youth 14 and older).
The support team will meet to review and support the placement at least quarterly, at which time progress, accountabilities and additional needs will be addressed and documented. The Family Alternatives social worker will plan and coordinate these meetings, as well as provide written documentation to all support team members.
The placing county must complete a MAPCY assessment with the foster parents within the first 30 days of placement. The Foster Parent Payment Policy outlines this process in detail.
Re-licensing And Annual Evaluation
A foster parent’s re-licensing date is the first day of the month in which the initial license was issued. The Licensing Rule requires a bi-annual re-licensing and a yearly evaluation of each foster family by the licensing agency.
The following are situations in which licenses must be renewed annually:
- Foster parent currently in a negative licensing action; i.e., probation suspension, etc.
- Foster parent with a variance to a disqualification.
- Foster parent in their first year of service with Family Alternatives.
The following are situations in which licenses may be renewed annually:
- Foster parent with a number of substantiated licensing complaints.
- Foster parent failed to satisfy previous correction orders.
It is the responsibility of the Family Alternatives Re-licensing Coordinator to complete the re-licensing process. The re-licensing process will begin approximately 60 days before the expiration of the license and will include a meeting in the foster home prior to the expiration of the license.
At the time of Department of Human Services re-licensing, the following will be completed:
1. Background checks for household residents recently turning 13, and/or ages 10 to 12 for whom there is reasonable cause
2. Minnesota Adoption and Foster Care Application (DHS 4258A).
3. Home Safety Checklist (DHS 0644).
4. Foster Parent Education Form for each parent.
5. Individual Fact Sheet (all household members18 and older) (DHS 4258B)
6. Child Foster Care Statement of Intended Use (MN Rules Section 2906.3000, subp 4)
7. Minnesota Adoption and Foster Care Home Study Assessment Update (DHS 4258E)
If any disqualifier, as established by the Department of Human Services, appears in background checks, the Re-licensing Coordinator will follow the disqualification procedure and reconsideration process stated in the Licensing Act. (See Assessment and Licensing Policy).
If a foster parent has failed to meet re-licensing requirements, the following steps, as indicated in Minnesota statute 245A may be followed:
- Correction Order
- Second Correction Order with possible recommendation for fine
- Negative Licensing Recommendation
For further information on this refer to the Licensing Investigation policy.
In a foster family’s off year an evaluation during their licensing month must be completed and the following placed in the foster parent file:
1. Foster Parent Education Form for each parent
2. Home Safety Checklist
3. Annual Evaluation
4. Documentation of paid respite and educational support money used
5. Referring Social Worker Satisfaction Evaluation for Family Alternatives, completed by county placing workers and reviewed during re-licensing meeting.
Respite Care is temporary paid care of children in care in a licensed foster home other than the home where the child is placed. Substitute Care is an approved paid provider coming into the home to care for children. Before providing care, all substitute care providers must have a clear background check, a signed Data Privacy Form, and documentation of completion of any required age-specific training. Minnesota Department of Human Services does not require this of short-term substitute care providers, Family Alternatives policy does. This documentation must be included in the foster parent file.
At the time of the Placement Support Plan meeting, Support Team or Circle of Support meetings, a plan for care must be established and/or reviewed. The plan must include introduction of the child to the provider well in advance of any care occurring. Families may use care for illness, emergencies, relief time and/or time for the needs of other family members.
County social workers must always know where children in care are and be provided with the name, address, and phone number of the care provider. The Family Alternatives social worker will inform the county social worker of all respite and substitute care arrangements.
Respite Procedures for Children in Placement:
A licensed foster home must be used for out of home respite care. A family member or other unlicensed provider may provide substitute care in the foster home where the child resides. In this situation, the licensing worker must obtain Department of Human Services criminal background checks (refer to Assessment and Licensing policy), signed Data Privacy Form, Medical/Chemical Health Statement, and if deemed necessary, an interview.
Foster parents using respite or substitute care must obtain prior approval from the Family Alternatives social worker. Foster parents providing respite care must also obtain approval from the licensing worker. Failure to obtain prior approval will result in non-payment and a Correction Order. Foster parents must obtain approval for non-emergency respite or substitute care from their social worker at least ten days in advance. Respite and substitute care will not be approved for a child’s first month in placement, for holidays, for a child in care’s birthday, or if a child would miss school. When respite is to occur between two Family Alternatives homes, the Family Alternatives social workers will communicate respite plans with one another prior to granting approval.
A Respite Provider Information Form must be completed by the foster parent and given to the provider. Foster parents must notify providers of their Drug/Alcohol and Discipline Policies. Payment for respite and substitute care, other than the three weeks paid by Family Alternatives, is arranged by the foster families and can include an exchange agreement.
When providing respite or substitute care, providers must meet the requirements of the Infant/Young Child Placement, Child Passenger Restraint, and Technology Dependent Children policies as appropriate to the ages and needs of children in respite care. If a home providing respite care will have four or more children in care, and has not had a fire marshal inspection, a variance may be written for respite. The 1:5 adult to child ratio must be maintained at all times. Per Family Alternatives policy, all substitute caregivers providing direct contact services for a child are required to receive a background study.
A foster family with an active allegation, or under a license hold due to licensing violations may not be used as a respite provider.
Family Alternatives Respite/Substitute Care:
Twenty-one nights of payment is provided to Family Alternatives foster parents each licensing year. The 21 days do not carry over from one year to the next. The foster parent’s per diem reimbursement will not be interrupted during this time. Family Alternatives respite and substitute care will be paid by the number of overnights. Payment will only be made to an approved provider.
When homes licensed by another agency are used for paid respite, the Family Alternatives worker must contact the licensing social worker for that home, and obtain written approval for the respite to occur.
Foster parents providing care to children in the Intensive Program receive an additional two nights per month for those children. This does not accumulate or carry over from one month to the next unless it is part of the established plan. The foster parent’s per diem reimbursement will not be interrupted during this time. Foster parents will follow the above procedures. When the Circle of Support/Support Team has approved consistent ongoing arrangements, the 10-day notification can be waived. Legal guardians and county workers must still be notified of the arrangements in advance.
Additional County Paid Respite/Substitute Care:
There are times that the county of responsibility will pay for additional respite or substitute care for children in Family Alternatives homes. Written approval from the county must be received in advance.
Out of Agency Respite:
Family Alternatives families may provide respite services to children outside of Family Alternatives homes. When a respite referral is received, the Family Alternatives social workers will review the referral information and look for an appropriate match. If a possible respite family is identified, the social worker will follow the referral process and relay information on the potential foster family to the referral source.
If an appropriate match is made, Data Privacy and HIPPA Forms, a Respite Care Plan, Parental/Guardian Consent Form and a Treatment Team Authorization for Release of Information will be completed and signed. All support team members will be given a copy of the Respite Care Plan. Foster parents must receive medical equipment training for children dependent on medical equipment prior to providing care.
If an ongoing respite arrangement has been established, the primary caregivers and the respite foster parents will call each other directly to agree on the logistics of the arrangements. It is the foster parents’ responsibility to notify the Family Alternatives social worker of the respite dates and times prior to each respite. When respite is provided for out-of-agency children for three days or fewer, the county is billed and foster parents are reimbursed for the day in and day out. For care exceeding three days, foster parents are reimbursed for the number of overnights. When the respite is paid through a CADI waiver, financial arrangements must be defined in writing prior to respite occurring.
Overnights may be discussed at placement and reviewed as needed. Foster parents will make decisions about children’s overnights away from the foster home with friends or for community activities. Normalcy and Reasonable and Prudent Parenting Standards training provides guidelines for making these decisions. Overnights are not considered respite and payment will not be provided.
Emergency Respite is approved and arranged in order to promote the child’s and/or foster family’s safety or to support the placement through a conflict or emergency. The Family Alternatives social worker must notify the county social worker of the concerns prior to respite occurring. When the county social worker is not immediately available, the Family Alternatives social worker must contact the on-call social worker, supervisor or after hours coverage for the county of responsibility.
After respite/substitute care placement ends, the child’s foster parent must confirm with their Licensing Worker that the respite occurred. Accounting will issue a check to the care provider within 12 days of notification. If there are concerns regarding payment foster parents will contact only their own licensing worker.
Family Alternatives Social Worker and Foster Parents
The Family Alternatives social worker serves as the support team coordinator and as the primary support person for the foster family. The social worker is available for consultation, advice, counsel, support, and venting. The Family Alternatives social worker is the primary link in communicating with other support team members. It is essential that Family Alternatives social workers are made aware of any changes or unusual problems developing in the family.
The Family Alternatives social worker is responsible for ensuring the foster home operates in accordance with the Licensing Rule that governs foster care placement in compliance with the laws of the State of Minnesota. The family’s social worker will maintain licensing responsibilities for the family. Licensing or parenting concerns, as well as youth’s needs and progress will be addressed and documented by the Family Alternatives social worker.
Family Alternatives social workers are contacted when allegations of abuse or neglect are made regarding foster parents. It is the social worker’s role to follow the investigation in accordance with county procedures. Should the determination be made there are licensing concerns or disqualifications, it is the social worker’s role to work with the foster family in accordance with the findings.
Referring County Social Worker
The county social worker is legally responsible for the child in a court-ordered placement. In a voluntary placement, the county worker acts as the liaison between Family Alternatives, the county, and the legal parent. The county worker attends all meetings, approves all payments regarding the child, and has final decision-making authority throughout the child’s placement.
Child In Care
The Family Alternatives social worker is responsible for developing and monitoring the placement support plan. The social worker will meet at least monthly with the child to monitor the placement and build a relationship. The Family Alternatives social worker coordinates services with the child and the support team.
Family relationships are an important part of a child’s life and including family in the placement support plan meetings is good practice. It is important for the Family Alternatives social worker and foster family to develop a working relationship with family members in order to meet the child’s needs.
Children in care are often involved in therapy. Therapists offer support to children, families, and foster families. It is important for Family Alternatives social workers and foster parents to work closely with therapists. Foster parents are expected to schedule and coordinate rides for therapy.
Guardian ad Litem
Children who are court ordered to foster care will usually have a Guardian ad Litem. The Guardian ad Litem’s function is to speak in court regarding the best interest of the child. Guardian ad Litems are usually invited to meetings scheduled for the child and may visit the child.
Foster parents are responsible for registering children into school. Foster parents should be provided with school history information and the name of schools previously attended within five days of placement. This will allow the new school to obtain previous records, decide appropriate grade placement, and arrange for any special education services necessary.
McKinney-Vento is a federal law that promotes stability, access, and academic success for homeless youth. Children living in emergency or transitional shelters or awaiting foster care placement are considered homeless for the purpose of the McKinney-Vento Act. The Act requires that schools immediately enroll homeless children in school and provide access to transportation and free lunch even without records normally required for enrollment. The Act also sometimes allows children to remain in their school even if their situation has caused them to move outside of the school district. In this case, the school district must consider arrangements for the child to stay in the school at which he/she was last enrolled, including providing transportation.
Foster parents serve as primary advocates and contact persons with school. They will keep support team members informed of the child’s progress and needs and notify support team members of all school conferences or meetings. The child’s teacher or counselor should be kept informed of any significant changes in the child’s situation that may affect behavior.
Many children in care have special educational needs, which may require an Individual Education Plan (IEP). IEPs are typically reviewed twice per year and foster parents will notify all support team members of IEP meetings.
Foster parents are not authorized to sign the IEP unless identified as surrogate parents by the school district. School districts have various requirements for surrogate parenting, but in general, a signed authorization from the legal parent or guardian is required.
All public schools are required to provide special education services for children who qualify for additional services based on behavioral, emotional, intellectual and/or physical disabilities. Special education services are available for children ages infant to 21.
School districts provide screenings and if warranted, early childhood special education for children age 0-6. Children under age 3 may qualify for in-home services, while children ages 3-6 may receive full or part-time educational services at a school facility, in-home, or a combination of both. Children in foster care, whether qualifying for special education or not, also have priority for enrollment in Head Start programs.
PACER (www.pacer.org) Center is a statewide education organization serving families of children and adults with disabilities. PACER offers workshops, individual assistance, and written information related to education services and can be a resource to work with schools to address a child’s special needs.
A foster parent must discuss enrolling a child in foster care in a private school with the support team and permission must be obtained from the parent or legal guardian. Foster parents take financial responsibility for costs of private education. Some schools may waive tuition when it is understood the child is supported by public funds.
Living in a family is an intimate experience. Sexual ethics and morality demand that families be very clear about boundaries. Foster parents need to be aware of and communicate personal values and boundaries. In order to effectively parent children from families with values and boundaries that may be different from the foster family, foster parents must be aware of differences and able to address concerns.
Children who have experienced sexual abuse may perceive and interact with others in sexualized ways. In these cases it is important to report the behaviors to the support team/circle of support. Strategies must be developed for working with the child around these behaviors and the emotional issues they represent.
Foster parents must clearly communicate to all children in the home which behaviors are permitted and where they are permitted. Children must know the expectations concerning appropriate touch and dressing and bathing. Children need to know family members will respect their privacy and foster parents will make every effort to protect them from harm. Rules regarding privacy and intimacy help the child feel safe and secure. It is important to accept and encourage the personal boundaries that children establish for themselves and to support children in ongoing development of their personal boundaries and sexual values.
Foster parents must continue to work on ways to effectively communicate knowledge as well as values concerning sexuality. This includes issues of dress, choice of partners, sexual lifestyle, and entertainment. This communication will enhance the confidence and self-esteem of children and help them make responsible decisions concerning their sexuality and relationships. Whenever foster parents are challenged by choices children in care make, it is important to bring those questions or concerns to the support team/circle of support.
Only Family Alternatives foster homes identified by the agency will be designated as Shelter Care Homes. Foster parents will be on the shelter rotation for one county only unless approved by the Shelter Coordinator.
Requirements for Shelter Care homes:
- Training: Complete a two hour Shelter Foster Care Orientation with Family Alternatives Shelter Coordinator. Child Passenger and SUIDS/AHT trainings are also pre-requisites as outlined in the rules/law.
- Experience: Minimum of two-years experience as a licensed foster care provider, unless waived by the agency.
- Transportation: Shelter foster parent(s) must have a car, valid driver’s license and current insurance.
- Capacity and Population: The total number of children in care will not exceed the foster home’s licensed capacity and must be in compliance with the Statement of Intended Use and in Minnesota Rules, part 2960.3030. Hennepin County children in shelter must have separate bedrooms from children in foster and respite care. Cribs must be approved for shelter placements prior to that age group being referred to the home. Capacity variances may be written at Family Alternatives discretion.
- Supervision: A shelter foster parent is expected to provide full time care in the home and must be available to meet the needs of the child should s/he be ill or have school difficulties. Hennepin County shelter foster homes must have one parent home full-time.
- Availability for placement: Hennepin County shelter parent(s) must be available from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. to accept a shelter referral, and available to pick up children from St. Joseph’s Home for Children Central Intake between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. Ramsey County may bring children to the shelter home, or the shelter parent may pick up children at St. Paul Children’s Hospital or another agreed upon location. If dropped off at the shelter home, the children must be accepted into shelter placement. If the shelter parent picks up children, the option exists for the shelter parent to withdraw from accepting the child into placement. Picking up or accepting a child outside of the above hours is at the shelter parent(s)’ discretion for both Hennepin and Ramsey County.
- Availability for Health and Welfare Hold: When a child is on a 72-hour Police Health and Welfare Hold, shelter parent(s) must be available by telephone for any shelter business and the child must be available to be interviewed.
Shelter parents are not authorized to give permission for youth to be away from the shelter home overnight. The placement will be interrupted whenever a youth is away from the home overnight. Shelter parents must follow Family Alternatives Emergencies and Incident Policy whenever a youth absents from the shelter home.
Shelter care per diem continues during pre-placement visits. The shelter parent(s) must be available to accept the child back if the pre-placement visit disrupts.
Family Alternatives will not refer foster homes under investigation for licensing or maltreatment allegations, or with active correction orders. The shelter home will be taken off rotation pending the outcome of maltreatment and/or licensing investigations.
Shelter homes with a MITH placement cannot accept Hennepin County shelter care placements. If a MITH family decides to provide Hennepin County shelter care, they cannot receive MITH referrals during that time. This does not apply to Ramsey County shelter placements.
Requesting Time Off
Shelter parent(s) may request to be off of placement rotation. For periods shorter than 24 hours, Hennepin County shelter parents will inform St. Joseph’s Home for Children Central Intake; Ramsey County shelter parents will report to 651.266-4252. For periods longer than 24 hours, shelter parents will inform Family Alternatives Shelter Coordinator, who will inform Ramsey or Hennepin County Shelter Coordinators. Shelter parents will be taken off rotation three weeks in advance of planned time off longer than 24 hours. At this time, the Family Alternatives Shelter Coordinator will provide written notice of the time off to the placing workers of children in shelter care and to the county Shelter Coordinators. A plan to move children will be determined prior to the family’s time off. Family Alternatives Shelter Coordinator will inform county Shelter Coordinators when the shelter family is available for shelter placements.
Shelter Care Placement Procedures
Any change in shelter and/or foster care status (placement, transfer, discharge, family availability or capacity change) must be reported to the Family Alternatives Shelter Coordinator within one business day.
Hennepin County shelter placements are expected to be 30 days or less, with a total length stay no longer than 90 days. Ramsey County shelter placements are expected to be 30 days or less with few exceptions.
Referral Process: Only Family Alternatives foster homes identified by the agency as shelter homes will be placed on rotation to receive referrals from Hennepin or Ramsey Counties. All Hennepin shelter referrals will be routed through St. Joseph’s Home for Children (SJHC) Central Intake, who will contact shelter parent(s) directly. All Ramsey shelter referrals will be routed through the Ramsey County Crisis Unit who will contact shelter parents directly. All shelter homes will notify their Family Alternatives social worker immediately after accepting a referral by phone, email or text message (leaving voice mail suffices). The social worker will notify the Family Alternatives Coordinator and enter the shelter placement into the database within one business day.
If a shelter parent(s) working with Hennepin County cannot be reached by telephone, (SJHC) Central Intake will wait ten minutes before referring the child to a different shelter home. This does not apply to Ramsey County. Once a shelter home has accepted a Hennepin County referral, the shelter parent(s) must make every effort to pick up the child as soon as possible from SJHC Central Intake, preferably within two to four hours. Once a shelter home has accepted a Ramsey County referral, the shelter parent must make every effort to receive the child either at home, at St. Paul Children’s Hospital, or at the agreed upon location, preferably within two to four hours of the referral time.
Initial Intake: SJHC Central Intake will provide intake forms for Hennepin County children, including the Physical Health Screen, and any other available descriptive information to the shelter parent(s). Shelter parent(s) are expected to carefully review the documents, particularly the Physical Health Screen and the nurse’s recommendations. If SJHC Community Clinic is unable to complete a Physical Health Screen prior to placement in the shelter home, it is the shelter parents’ responsibility to return to SJHC Community Clinic within 24 hours to complete the Physical Health Screen.
Ramsey County Crisis Unit is expected to fax intake forms for their children to Family Alternatives Coordinator within one business day. This information will be provided to the Family Alternatives social worker within one business day to be shared with the shelter parents. Shelter parents are expected to carefully document and review any verbal or written information received. Information received verbally can be documented on Weekly Log Forms.
Ramsey County children ages twelve and under will have a Physical Health Screen at St. Paul Children’s Hospital prior to placement in the shelter home. Children thirteen and older are not required to have a Physical Health Screen and may not have one prior to placement in the shelter home. Shelter parents are expected to carefully review the Physical Health Screen and any nurse recommendations.
If any medical or safety concerns arise for children in shelter care contact Ramsey County Children’s Crisis Response at 651-774-7000 or Hennepin County Crisis Services at 612-348-2233.
Shelter Placement Contact Expectations
The Family Alternatives social worker will visit the child within three business days of shelter care placement and weekly thereafter. When a child with Ramsey County has been in shelter for over thirty days, visits are required twice monthly; they remain weekly for Hennepin County children.
Shelter parents are expected to provide the following transportation during shelter placement if requested:
- To and from appointments related to the maltreatment investigation, including medical appointments and interviews.
- To and from school until transportation is arranged with the school.
- To and from up to three visits weekly with parent(s) or legal custodian. The placing worker will coordinate the visit after talking to the shelter foster home about availability.
- If approved for a shelter transfer, transportation to the new shelter placement.
The county placing worker is responsible for arranging transportation for routine medical care, pre-placement visits, foster care placements, and court hearings.
For each school day a child does not attend school, the shelter parent(s) will contact the child’s school of origin and report the absence as excused. Children of school age who have been in shelter care for three days beyond the 72-hour hold must attend school. The shelter parent(s) will confirm with the placing worker that the child can return to school and contact the child’s school of origin to arrange transportation. Pending transportation arrangements, the shelter parent(s) will be responsible for transportation to and from the school in which the child is enrolled prior to time of shelter placement. For Ramsey County shelter placements, the shelter parent may contact Project Reach at 651-632-3791 for assistance with setting up school transportation. Shelter parent(s) may only enroll children in their school district when approved by the child’s placing worker.
Contact with Family
Hennepin or Ramsey County child protection workers will communicate family contact guidelines to the shelter parent, including no contact orders. The child’s family’s contact information will be shared and a phone call schedule developed. Shelter parent(s) are expected to make the telephone calls, and should make no more than two or three attempts to call over a 15 minute period from the agreed upon time. Shelter parents should not provide their contact information to children’s family.
Contact information on St. Joseph’s Home for Children Central Intake Initial Assessment and the Notice of 72-Hour Police Health and Welfare Hold for Hennepin County children must be reviewed. All contact guidelines must be followed until the Ramsey or Hennepin County child protection worker approves changes.
The placing worker is responsible for coordinating the time and place of a visit after consulting with the shelter parent(s) about availability. The placing worker is also responsible for arranging supervision of the visit.
Family Alternatives social workers are responsible for compiling and maintaining files for children in shelter care within the defined time frames. Social workers must organize and maintain accurate records in compliance with State, County and Family Alternatives requirements. Both electronic and paper records must be created and maintained in a way that will protect security, integrity, confidentiality and appropriate access.
- Support Team Authorization/Release of Information Form
- HIPPA General Consent
- Child/Youth Consent Form
- Data Privacy Form
Case notes: Maintained in the database according to Case Note Policy.
Immediate Needs Plan: Within three business days of admitting a child into shelter, the Family Alternatives social worker assigned to the family will develop a plan for meeting the child’s immediate needs (refer to the Initial Placement Agreement Form to determine required information).
- Identify what is immediately needed to help stabilize or ameliorate the child’s situation, behavior, or condition;
- Specify short-term objectives and methods for meeting the needs identified in item A; and
- Indicate the shelter parent(s) responsibilities for meeting the child’s needs as identified by the placing agency. Copies of the written plan will be provided to the placing worker and shelter family within one week of placement.
Shelter Care Reports : Shelter parent(s) with Hennepin County children will complete a daily log; shelter parents with Ramsey County children will complete a weekly log. Logs will be submitted to the Family Alternatives social worker at the weekly visits and when the child is discharged.
The logs will include the following:
- Medical issues: injuries (scratches, bruises, blisters), fevers, rashes, toothaches, ringworm, lice, scabies, bedwetting, and toileting regression, as agreed upon in the Immediate Needs Plan.
- Medical care: medical visits, over the counter medications, prescribed medications, dosages, and time of administration.
- Behavioral issues: swearing, threats, aggression, sleep, eating as agreed upon in the Immediate Needs Plan.
- Family contact: visits and phone calls (completed and attempted)
- School: absence, enrollment status, transportation arrangements.
- Additional information.
Incident Reports: In addition, shelter parent(s) will provide incident reports to their Family Alternatives social worker within 24 hours using the Family Alternatives Incident Report Form. Follow the Emergencies and Incidents Policy.
Additional Documents: All documents pertaining to the child in shelter care must be filed immediately upon receipt.
The shelter home must have a supply of serviceable clothing to adequately clothe children in shelter care. It is expected that Hennepin or Ramsey County staff will assist in obtaining a child’s clothing from the child’s previous placement or parent(s), if possible. In order to purchase special clothing, such as school uniforms or adaptive clothing, the Family Alternatives social worker must receive prior approval from the placing worker for reimbursement. Shelter parent(s) must have a supply of shoes and winter outerwear for use until receiving the items from the child’s placing worker. Upon discharge of a child, the shelter home’s clothing, shoes, and winter wear stays in the shelter home. Items belonging to a child, or purchased specifically for a child, are sent with the child. The child must be discharged in a serviceable outfit.
If a child requires medications or medical care that is not covered by insurance and is non-routine, the shelter parents will provide payment and Family Alternatives will reimburse the shelter parents. Family Alternatives will be reimbursed through Hennepin or Ramsey County.
Shelter parent(s) must obtain placing worker’s permission for medical care of the child when a child is on 72-hour Police Health and Welfare Hold or subject to a Voluntary Placement Agreement, unless the child requires urgent or emergency medical care and there is not time to obtain authorization from the legal custodian(s) and/or placing worker. The shelter parent will seek the necessary care, and will notify Family Alternatives and the placing agency within 6 hours.
The placing worker is responsible for arranging and providing transportation to and from routine medical care appointments.
Shelter parent(s) will be reimbursed for babysitting expenses when performing shelter business. Babysitting is defined as care less than 24 hours with no overnights. All babysitters must meet the terms identified in Minnesota Rules, part 2960.3090 Respite and Substitute Care for Family Settings. Shelter business includes:
- Picking up children for shelter placement
- Discharging children from shelter
- Transferring children to another shelter home
- Children in shelter’s medical appointments
- Children in shelter’s visits
- Children in shelter’s court appearances
- Children in shelter’s investigative interviews
- Registering children in shelter at school
- Shelter parent(s) attending shelter group meetings
- Driving children in shelter to and from school until transportation can be arranged
Babysitters must not:
- Conduct any shelter business, including answering telephone calls and/or taking messages for shelter business.
- Receive or accept children from a worker.
- Allow any visits, admissions, releases or discharges from shelter home.
- Be responsible for more than the total number of children the shelter home is licensed for; including the babysitter’s own children.
- Drive shelter children for shelter business (including, but not limited to visits, medical appointments, etc.)
Mileage and Parking Reimbursement
Shelter parent(s) will be reimbursed for mileage and parking expenses while performing shelter business. Shelter business includes:
- Picking up children for shelter care placement
- Transferring children to another shelter home
- Children in shelter medical appointments (non-routine)
- Children in shelter’s family visits
- Children in shelter’s investigative interviews or court
- Registering children in shelter at school
- Driving to and from school until transportation can be arranged
Daily Shelter Foster Care: Rate is equal to the Daily Basic Maintenance Foster Care Rate established by Minnesota Department of Human Services (with the exception of age 12 through 14, which use the rates for ages 15 through 20) AND the sum equal to 180 Difficulty of Care points times the daily per point Difficulty of Care rate established by Minnesota Department of Human Services for Difficulty of Care. This rate will be in effect as long as the child’s placement is designated as a shelter placement.
Shelter Foster Care Mileage Reimbursement: Rate consistent with the standard mileage rate established by the United States Internal Revenue Service
Babysitting: $5 per hour for each child, with no more than $20 per hour.
Shelter Foster Care Per-Diem will be paid by direct deposit on the 15th of every month.
Babysitting, Mileage and Non-Routine Medical Costs must be submitted to your Family Alternatives social worker on the Shelter Care Reimbursement Form within 45 days of incurring the expense. Reimbursements will be paid via check on the 15th of the month following the month in which the expense is incurred provided the reimbursement request is submitted on or before the 5th of that month.
Transfers and Discharge
Shelter Transfers: Shelter placement transfers are only granted when the situation is a safety concern for the child or family, and must be approved by the Family Alternatives Shelter Coordinator. The Family Alternatives Shelter Coordinator will request a transfer from the Hennepin or Ramsey County Shelter Coordinators. When a shelter transfer has been approved for a Hennepin County child, the Family Alternatives Shelter Coordinator will contact SJHC Central Intake to arrange the transfer. It is expected that the shelter parent(s) will care for the child until the alternative placement is obtained. The shelter parent is responsible for the child’s ride to the new shelter home.
Discharge: Children are discharged from shelter care when the placing agency authorizes reunification or a foster care placement. Discharge planning is completed with the involvement of the child, parent/guardian, placing worker and other professionals who will be involved in providing services to the child and family upon discharge. The placing worker is responsible for developing a discharge plan.
Shelter parents will physically release children in shelter directly to a legal/custodial relative only upon the approval of the placing worker. The placing worker must conduct all other discharges. When shelter parent(s) release a shelter child to a legal/custodial relative legal identification and a signature on the discharge form are required. No paperwork can be sent with the child.
Shelter parent(s) will complete the Shelter Discharge Form for every child discharged from shelter. The form includes the following:
a) Signature of person child was released to
b) Child’s behavior and physical health
c) Documentation of medical treatment
d) Willingness of shelter foster parent(s) to accept child back into shelter placement
e) Comments, particularly information that would be helpful for a future shelter placement
The shelter parent(s) will provide their Family Alternatives social worker with the Discharge Form and any paperwork concerning the child within one week. Family Alternatives social worker will place one copy in the child’s closed file, provide one copy of the discharge form to SJHC Central Intake (Hennepin County only) and one to the child’s placing worker within two weeks of discharge. Following discharge, shelter parent(s) and Family Alternatives staff will be available by telephone to answer questions and clarify recommendations regarding the shelter care placement.
For children who reside in shelter 10 days or more for Hennepin County or 30 days or more for Ramsey County, the Family Alternatives Social Worker will complete a Discharge Summary, including the following:
a) Services provided
b) Medical issues
c) Pending appointments
d) School status
e) Recommendations for future services
The Family Alternatives social worker will provide a copy of the written Discharge Summary to the child’s placing worker within two weeks of discharge
On the day of discharge, Hennepin County shelter parent(s) must call SJHC Children Central Intake (Hennepin County) to report the discharge date, discharge type, and update space availability. Shelter parents for both Ramsey and Hennepin County must report the discharge to their Family Alternatives worker, who will notify the Family Alternatives Shelter Coordinator.
Shelter Care to Foster Care Status Change
When the shelter parent desires and is willing to continue to care for the child in a foster care placement, then the shelter parent(s) will inform their Family Alternatives Shelter Care worker. Prior to a determination being made to change the placement from a shelter placement to a foster care placement; the county must provide Family Alternatives with a referral for placement. The shelter/foster parent will sign the referral prior to the change occurring to confirm agreement with the plan to change status from shelter to foster placement. A placement decision cannot be made until approved by the Family Alternatives licensing and Shelter Care workers, county worker and foster parent. Once a decision is made, the county worker and Family Alternatives will agree upon a foster care placement date. From that date forward, the MAPCY rate will be in effect. The Family Alternatives social worker will notify the Shelter Coordinator of the date of status change; the Shelter Coordinator will then notify the county Shelter Coordinators.
When a shelter care placement transfers to a foster care placement, a child’s MAPCY level will be assessed and the foster parents may be reimbursed at the base rate until that process is complete.
Prior to the transition from shelter to foster placement, the family’s Family Alternatives licensing worker and the Shelter Care worker must have a face-to-face conversation to outline priorities and considerations including child/youth needs and foster parents’ strengths and limitations. Include supervisors when needed. This discussion will determine roles and responsibilities during the transition, including who talks to the foster parent, child/youth, and collaterals to determine their preferences.
A child in foster care shall not be exposed to any type of secondhand smoke in a licensed foster home or any enclosed space connected to the home, including a garage, porch, deck, or similar space, or in a motor vehicle. This includes the use of e-cigarettes. Smoking in outdoor areas on the premises of the home is permitted, except when a child in care is present and exposed to secondhand smoke.
If anyone living in the provider’s home smokes the provider must inform the child’s county worker prior to placement.
Foster parents must notify Family Alternatives prior to an adult not documented as a household member staying overnight in the foster home. Foster parents must notify the Family Alternatives worker when an adult, not documented as a household member, has ongoing and/or unsupervised contact with children in care. When any non-household adult is regularly providing direct contact services to children in care, or is not providing direct contact services, but has unsupervised access to children in care, and there is reasonable cause*, the following is required to be completed with copies placed in the file within 30 days:
*Reasonable cause means information or circumstances exist which provide articulable suspicion that further pertinent information may exist concerning an individual. There is reasonable cause when, but not limited to, receiving a report from the individual, the license holder, or a third party indicating the individual has a history that would disqualify the individual or that may pose a risk to the health or safety of children in care.
1. Data Privacy Form
2. Background study following NetStudy 2.0 guidelines, including fingerprints for individuals of any age
3. Medical-Chemical Health Statement completed and signed
The foster parent also must review the Discipline Policy with the individual After 30 days if these requirements have not been met, no direct contact with children in foster care is allowed.
Whenever placing a child who relies on medical equipment to sustain or monitor life the following is required:
- The foster parent, others providing care in the foster home, and any respite provider must have received training from a certified health care professional to operate the equipment.
- The foster parent must have completed training in the individual child’s particular needs. The child’s previous care provider can provide this training.
No child requiring medical equipment to sustain or monitor life may be placed in any foster home without these requirements being met. This includes respite placements.
Do Not Resuscitate/ Do Not Intubate Orders
If a DNR/DNI order is in effect for a child in care, copies must be in the foster home and the child’s file. In the event of a life-threatening situation, the care provider must call 911 and show emergency personnel the DNR/DNI order.
Family Alternatives encourages youth and adults to participate at all levels of program design, development, and implementation. Youth and families are integral partners with staff.
An orientation outlining confidentiality and mandated reporting requirements will be provided to an individual prior to sanctioned access to youth and/or confidential information. DHS requires this orientation be completed within the first five days of an employee’s or volunteer’s affiliation with Family Alternatives. Confidentiality Agreements must be signed prior to sanctioned contact with children or vulnerable adults served by the program
Each participant will be given the opportunity to volunteer services. The usual compensation rate is $10 per hour and may include travel time. Reimbursement for childcare and food are also available.