Essentials for foster parents: Education supports, respite care, picnic recap

essentials foster care and adoption

September/October 2022

Education supports for children and youth in foster care


A new school year is here. These services and scholarships can support education success for learners of all ages, from preschool to high school and beyond. 

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Education Support Services (ESS) for your foster youth

The beginning of the school year can bring new stresses for both children and foster parents. If you find that the children in your home are struggling to stay on track or that you, as a foster parent, are struggling to help them, we have a new resource for you.

Hennepin County’s Education Support Services (ESS) program provides academic supports to children who are receiving county services. Their mission is to address disparities in education systems by partnering with Hennepin County youth, families, and community professionals to support student engagement and growth.

ESS staff can meet with children, youth, and foster parents to make referrals for various services, including academic tutoring through Huntington Learning Center. ESS staff can coordinate with the school district, advocate for additional supports in the school, provide coaching to students, and help teach youth how to advocate for themselves as students and learners.

These services are available at no cost to you as a foster family. If you think that a child in your home would benefit from an academic coach who provides consistent and personalized assistance with school, talk with your licensor or with the foster child’s social worker. Ask them to make a referral for an Educational Support Specialist. 

Early Childhood Scholarship for foster children age 0-5

The Hennepin County Early Childhood Scholarship is designed to offer young children in foster care the opportunity to receive quality early childhood care and education, preparing them for kindergarten and beyond. 

Criteria for the scholarship is based on the following: 

  • Children age 0-5
  • Court ordered into foster care
  • Not yet in kindergarten
  • The foster parent(s) is/are working and/or attending school full-time

The child(ren) must attend a high-quality child care home or center. High quality is defined as a home or center which has received a 3 or 4 star rating on the Parent Aware rating scale. A listing of 3 and 4 star rated programs can be reviewed at

For additional questions and/or to discuss applying for an Early Childhood Scholarship, please speak with your foster care licensor and/or placing worker for the child.

Fostering Independence: grant for higher education

Minnesota has a new program to support higher education for youth in foster care.

Fostering Independence grants cover the cost of attendance at any eligible Minnesota public or participating private college and university. This includes tuition, fees, room and board, meals and other living expenses.

Minnesotans under age 27 who were in foster care after age 13 are eligible.

The list of colleges and universities include public, private, community and technical colleges.

More information about Fostering Independence grants

Using respite care for self-care

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Being a foster parent is a big job and can be challenging at times. We encourage foster parents to use respite care. Respite care is the term used when your foster child goes to another licensed foster home while you take a break.

Sometimes foster parents may have hesitation or questions on whether respite care is a good fit for their situation or foster child. Reach out to your licensing worker to discuss any respite requests or questions you have.

When ready to request your respite dates, plan to notify your licensing worker at least 30 days in advance. This will allow your licensing worker to have time to find a licensed home that is a good fit for the needs of your foster child and the needs of the respite request. Additionally, this will give more time for you and the respite home to coordinate details, discuss the needs of your foster child, and identify any routines or practices that can be used by respite home to support the transition for your foster child during this period.

For additional guidelines and information on requesting respite, see pages 32-35 of the Foster Parent Guide.

Foster care picnic returns


Hennepin Count staff Emily Palmer, Crystal Quarberg, Lisa Trinh, and Heather Springer

After a two-year COVID hiatus, our annual picnic for foster families returned on Saturday, August 6 at Veterans Park in Richfield. It was great to gather once again, as we've missed this community-building event. 

While it rained heavily in the morning, we lucked out with dry weather for the picnic itself. Attendees enjoyed food, prizes, activities, and time to connect. 

Thanks to sponsors and partners

We couldn’t do this event without community support!

  • Prizes: Target – Knollwood, Lighthouse Minneapolis, UnitedHealth Group
  • Activities: Hennepin County Library, therapy dog volunteer Ann, Richfield Fire Department
  • Food (in-kind and gift cards): Jersey Mike’s, Firehouse Subs, Panera – Ridgedale, Jimmy John’s – Richfield, Lunds & Byerlys, Cub Foods – Knollwood, Sam’s Club – Bloomington, Costco
  • Volunteers: Medtronic

Help us find a family for Ronald


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 Ronald. Visit Children Waiting for Adoption to learn more information or share details with someone who may be interested.

Ronald (age 12) is friendly, playful, and inquisitive. He enjoys telling jokes, making connections with others, and asking questions to get to know them better. Ronald likes listening to music and some of his favorite artists are Michael Jackson, Prince, and Queen. If a Michael Jackson or Prince song comes on, you will see likely see him dancing and singing along. Ronald likes playing basketball and video games, assembling LEGO sets, playing on the playground, and building things. When Ronald takes things apart, he really tries to understand why the thing works or is put together the way that it is. He is also interested in magic and spending time outdoors. Ronald would like to be a police officer when he gets older. His favorite colors are blue and green, and his favorite food is pizza. He also really likes McDonald’s and Culver’s.  

Following adoption, Ronald would need to maintain contact with his brother and other birth family members. 

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

Help youth take charge of their health

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Beginning at age 11, youth have one-to-one time to talk with their doctor during their Child & Teen Checkup (C&TC) visit. This allows them to start taking charge of their health.

All youth need a C&TC checkup every year. Youth in foster care may need more frequent checkups for follow-up with ongoing health and/or mental health concerns.

Highlights of the C&TC visit for youth 11-20 years old:

  • Flu vaccine every year
  • HPV vaccine at 11 years old - 2-shot series given 6 months apart, protects youth from certain cancers before exposure
  • Meningococcal vaccines (series) - protects from infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord, as well as bloodstream infections. Meningococcal diseases can cause disability and even be fatal. Youth are most susceptible to this disease, which is why vaccine is given at this time
  • Hearing and vision checks
  • Time to discuss health goals and/or concerns such as mental health, substance abuse, sexual health

Let us help your youth become independent with their health care. We can help find a doctor they are comfortable talking to at a clinic in their health plan network. We can help make a medical or dental appointment and set up free transportation.


Call or email us today:

Training information online

Foster care training requirements depend on the stage of licensure — initial, first year, or ongoing — and whether you are a relative or non-relative foster care provider.

Find information about foster parent training requirements, registration and schedules.

Self-test: receive training credit


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


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. Children must attend any child-care home or center for the Early Childhood Scholarship. True or False
  1. What does Ronald enjoy doing?
  1. Youth 11-20 should have what vaccines?
  1. Respite is covered on what pages of the Foster Parent Guide?
  1. What are two of the four criteria needed for receiving the Early Childhood Scholarship?
  1. How long ago was the last foster care picnic?
  1. At what age can youth have one-to-one time to talk with their doctor?
  1. What does ESS stand for?
  1. What does the term “respite care” mean?
  1. You need to request respite care 30 days in advance. True or False



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