Essentials for foster parents: Foster care picnic, provider shares perspective, Wrapped in Love

essentials foster care and adoption

July-August 2022

Hennepin County foster care picnic returns August 6

Picnic banner

We look forward to gathering with you in-person this summer with the return of our foster care picnic!

Please join us Saturday, August 6, 2022 from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. at Veteran’s Park in Richfield (6335 Portland Avenue) for food, games, and prizes.

RSVP by July 22: Fill out the foster care picnic form.

Foster provider shares perspective on comfort calls, icebreaker meetings

Martha Winkelman

In her first icebreaker meeting, foster provider Martha Winkelman felt an instant, empathetic connection to the young mom in front of her.

“I looked in her eyes and I knew,” said Winkelman. With that eye contact, she felt something click.

“Truly, truly, it brings home the ‘why,’” she said. “It’s not just the kids, it’s the family. It’s that parent.”

Icebreaker meetings, like comfort calls, are coordinated by the county’s Placement Support Team. Goals include increasing information-sharing and establishing a collaborative relationship between parents and foster providers.

A Hennepin County foster parent since 2016, Winkelman says she initially struggled with the concept of the calls and meetings. She thought dealing with parents wasn’t in her wheelhouse.

One call changed her mind.

“Mom was so incredibly distraught,” said Winkelman. “I felt every ounce of what she was going through.” Winkelman’s focus shifted. It was no longer solely about the child, but also the family they came from.

“Here we are,” she remembers thinking. “Let’s get through this and help everybody be okay.”

The calls have gotten easier as she’s done more of them. “You can see what a difference you make in [the parent’s] mind,” she said.

When Winkelman participated in that icebreaker meeting with a mom earlier this year, she found the experience similarly transformative.

Mom’s head hung low when they first started talking. Winkelman wanted to help boost her spirits with a compliment. “I told her what a wonderful mom she is,” she said, and recognized how the mom showed care for her newborn and older infant.

With that, the mom lifted her head. Winkelman saw a light in her eyes. In the rest of their conversation, Mom opened up a bit more. She smiled. Then, a shared laugh.

“I don't know if I would have been able to do [this] a year ago,” she said. She knows that while not every call or meeting will go well, she’s seen they often do.

Winkelman gets emotional when talking about these experiences. She hopes the connections forged in comfort calls and icebreaker meetings will establish partnering relationships with parents and help reunify families.

Resources for connecting with birth parents

Wrapped in Love: charitable clothing store for foster youth

Wrapped in Love is a nonprofit clothing store in Buffalo, Minnesota that provides a one-on-one shopping experience for children to adults in foster care.

Donations are made by Once Upon a Child, Plato’s Closets, and others from the community.

To make an appointment, the foster provider must email to show proof of their licensure, or copy your licensing worker so Wrapped in Love can verify that you are a foster provider.

Please visit Wrapped in Love for more information.

Child and Teen Checkups

Summer is a good time to catch up on checkups and vaccines

Because of COVID-19 there has been a drop in well-child checkups, so it’s more important than ever to get kids in for their C&TC well-child checks!

As your family plans for summer, put getting your child caught up on checkups and recommended vaccines on the list of summer activities.

Did you know routine childhood vaccinations help prevent 14 diseases? Learn more at

The COVID-19 vaccine now available for everyone over 6 months old! Call your medical clinic if you have questions


At C&TC well-child checkups

  • Your doctor will monitor your child’s development, including physical and emotional health
  • You can ask the doctor questions about your child’s health
  • Issues can be caught early and addressed quickly
  • Your child can get recommended vaccinations

Need help finding a clinic in your child’s health plan network, making a medical or dental appointment, or setting up free transportation or an interpreter? We are here to answer your questions.

Call or email us today

Get your updated Foster Parent Guide

FosterParentGuide on tablet

Formerly known as the A to Z Guide, the Foster Parent Guide is your source for important information about foster care requirements, expectations, and policies. This updated tool is meant to help you best meet the needs of the foster children and youth in your care.

Download the Foster Parent Guide.

The most current version of the guide will always be available to you at the top of the Hennepin County foster parent website: Click on the “Foster parent guide” link.

Within the guide, you can conveniently navigate to the information you need by clicking on the sections in the table of contents on pages 2 and 3.

Please use this new Foster Parent Guide and discard any older versions of the A to Z Guide you may have. This version contains the most current and accurate information.

If you need a paper copy of the guide, please reach out to your foster care licensor to request one.

Help us find a family for Ethan

Ethan headshot

As foster parents, you know that most children in foster care return home to their families. Some are adopted by relatives or by their foster parents.

When these options aren’t possible, kids still need loving, supportive adoptive families. Many waiting children in Hennepin County are school-age or teens, or part of a sibling group. Help us spread the word and find permanent families for these youth. We are in need of loving families, like yours, that are willing to be a mentor, respite provider, foster family, or possibly an adoptive placement for these youth. 

Please help us find a family for Ethan. Visit Children Waiting for Adoption to learn more information or share details with someone who may be interested.

Ethan has a love for gospel music, baking and watching The Descendants, Winx and Madea movies. He really enjoys going to school; especially when he gets to cook! Ethan also enjoys swimming and going shopping. He has an interest in animals; the cuter the better! Ethan can be quiet at first but once he gets to know people, he loves making them laugh by telling jokes or pranking them - he has an awesome sense of humor! Ethan needs a family who can provide a lifelong commitment to him.  Following adoption, Ethan will need to maintain contact with his siblings.

View Ethan's profile and Reel Hope video on our website

Training: Car Seat and Foster Parent College

Account changes in the SABA/Hennepin Learning Account

An update was made to the SABA/Hennepin Learning Account system in April 2022. Foster parents that created an account prior to this date need to update their accounts. Foster parents that do not yet have an account will need to create one following the new instructions. Email to to get the updated instructions.

Car Seat Training

Foster parents were required to resume face-to-face Children and Restraint Systems (C.A.R.S.) training 8/31/2021.

Registration is required to attend the C.A.R.S training. The C.A.R.S trainings are no longer available for registration on the SABA Hennepin Learning Account system. To register, send an email to with the attendees and your licensor name. Due to limited space, no walk-ins will be allowed at the C.A.R.S training. The trainings are held in Brooklyn Center off Brooklyn Blvd at the Northwest Human Service building.

Foster Parent College trainings

Foster Parent College trainings are additional pre-recorded trainings offered to foster parents at no cost. To learn more, visit Foster Parent College at

If you are currently licensed and want a Foster Parent College account, email to request an account be created for you. Please provide the name of your licensor.

To register for the foster parent college pre-recorded video trainings

  1. Log into your foster parent college account
  2. Click on the Personal Homepage tab
  3. Browse the course listing and choose a course that interests you
  4. Complete training

Trainings are available in both English and Spanish.

Self-test: receive training credit

To receive an hour of training credit, read this Essentials Newsletter and complete the quiz below.

If two foster parents want to take the test and each receive an hour of training, please attach an additional answer sheet.

Once you have completed the test, email it to your licensing worker.



Licensing Worker:___________________________________


If you do not use email, please mail the completed quiz to your licensing worker at:

Hennepin County-HSPHD

Foster Care Licensing

Attn: _________________

300 South Six Street, Mail Code ______

Minneapolis, MN 55487


  1. Can I register for Car Seat Training through SABA Hennepin Learning Account?
  2. Ethan enjoys ___________ and ___________.
  3. How do I navigate the Foster Parent Guide?
  4. If I registered for SABA/Hennepin Learning Account System before April 2022 do I need to update my account?
  5. How do I find out more information on Ethan?
  6. Martha has been a Hennepin County foster parent since what year?
  7. What do you need to do to attend the foster care picnic?
  8. What information do you share with Wrapped in Love to make an appointment?
  9. What is the new name for the "A to Z" Guide?
  10. Who coordinates Icebreaker meetings and comfort calls?



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