Referral incentives for foster parents, Independent Living Services, Training

essentials foster care and adoption

Referral incentives for foster parents

Help us recruit new foster parents and you could earn incentive payments. Hennepin County is piloting an incentive program for referring family and friends.

See full details about the program below. 

If you are ready to refer a family for non-relative foster care, talk to your licensing worker.

Program overview

Eligibility criteria

  • Hennepin County foster parents, licensed or in application status, relative or non-relative, may refer a family or friend for non-relative foster care.
  • A referred family or friend (new applicant) who becomes a Hennepin County licensed foster parent and accepts a Hennepin County child/youth foster or respite placement.

Incentive payments

  • Payments for incentives earned will be in the form of Visa cards.
  • A referring foster parent will receive a $200 Visa card when all incentive requirements (see below) are met. A referring foster parent may receive up to two incentives per calendar year.
  • A new applicant will receive a $200 Visa card when all incentive requirements (see below) are met.

How to receive incentives

For either the referring foster parent OR the new applicant to receive an incentive payment:

The referring foster parent must:

  • Complete a Family and Friends Referral Incentives-Referring Foster Parent form and submit it to their licensing worker.


The new applicant must:

  • Live in Hennepin County.
  • Attend Hennepin County’s orientation/information meeting and identify the foster parent who referred them.
  • Submit a child foster care licensing (CFCL) application.
  • Complete all tasks of the licensing process and be approved for licensure within 120 days of signing their application.
  • Accept a child/youth foster or respite placement within 60 days of their license approval.

Neither the referring foster parent nor the new applicant will receive their Visa card unless and until the new applicant is approved for licensing within 120 days of the date the Child Foster Care Licensing application was signed AND accepts their first foster or respite placement within 60 days of license approval.

Additional details

Start date: October 1, 2023. Child Foster Care Licensing non-relative applications that are signed on or after October 1, 2023, and meet all eligibility criteria, will be eligible to earn incentives. We will not be able to offer incentives for non-relative applications signed prior to the start date of the pilot.

End date of pilot: June 30, 2024. Child Foster Care Licensing non-relative applicants that meet all eligibility criteria, and are licensed and accept first foster or respite placement on or before June 30, 2024, are eligible for incentive payment. This will also earn incentive payment to the referring foster parent.

Note: This incentive is considered taxable income for applicants. However, Hennepin County only needs to issue 1099s to applicants who received taxable income of more than $600/per year. [I.R.C. § 6041(a)].

Independent Living Services for youth 14-17


Independent Living Plan

In Minnesota, foster youth age 14 or older are required to develop independent living plans (ILPs) in partnership with their social workers, caregivers, and other important people that the youth chooses.

The ILP is a document created by DHS that spells out what steps the youth and important adults will be taking to prepare for independence. The ILP includes domains such as education, vocation, transportation, money management, and maintaining connections.

But preparation for independence is about so much more than writing down a plan. This preparation is occurring at every age and is about providing new experiences and responsibilities, helping young people learn about themselves their identities and culture, their strengths and abilities. It also helps with everyday tasks they will need to complete on their own such as grocery shopping, budgeting, washing clothes and so much more.

Foster care providers play a vital role in independent living skill development. Foster parents can work directly with children and youth on money management, cooking, hygiene, and health management, as well as household tasks like laundry and basic cleaning. Encouraging age-appropriate experiences for youth in foster care, and allowing youth to build on experiences with discussion, debriefing, and recognition of success is all part of how foster parents nurture and prepare young people for adulthood.

At the same time, foster care providers may find that youth can benefit from extra support and resources as they are moving toward independence. Youth age 14 and older who are placed in foster care can be referred for Life Skills Coach services. Hennepin County partners with two community agencies to provide these services: C2i and the YMCA. Life coaches provide mentorship, teach important skills through classes and one-on-one coaching, and work with youth to support them in their social, emotional, educational, and vocational goals. 

If you are caring for a young person in foster care who would benefit from life coaching, please talk with their assigned Hennepin County social worker to get started and learn more.

Fight the flu

Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine each year. Most doctor's office, clinics, or pharmacies offer the vaccine from September to mid-November. Even if you miss getting the vaccine at the start of the flu season, it's not too late to get one if the flu is still going around.

The flu is an infection of the respiratory tract. It's caused by a virus that spreads easily from person to person. Flu season in the United States is from October to May. It spreads when people cough or sneeze out droplets that are infected with the virus and other people breathe them in. The droplets also can land on things like doorknobs or shopping carts, infecting people who touch these things.

 When people have the flu, they usually feel worse than they do with a cold. The flu is very contagious. People can spread it from a day before they feel sick until their symptoms are gone. This is about 1 week for adults, but it can be longer for young children. The flu can turn into a serious illness like pneumonia. It can be dangerous for babies and kids or adults with health problems. If you think your child has the flu, see a doctor, nurse, or other medical expert right away.

Some children are more likely to have problems when they get the flu, including:

  • Children up to the age of 5, especially babies
  • Children and teens whose immune system is weakened from medicines or illnesses (like HIV infection)
  • Children with chronic (long-term) medical conditions, such as asthma or diabetes

A flu shot is the best way to avoid getting the flu and spreading it to others. It can be given with other vaccines at your foster child’s regular health checkup.


If you have questions about your foster care child or youth's health, talk to their clinic.

The Child and Teen Checkups (C&TC) staff are experienced in finding medical and dental clinics. We can help schedule appointments and set up transportation and interpreters, when needed.




Questions? Call or email us today!

Vikings and Tradehome Shoes give away backpacks and new shoes

Vikings and Tradehome Shoes kicked off the school year by giving away backpacks and shoes to 1,000 youth in the metro area, including some of our children in foster care.

Foster Care Licensing worker Kelly W. attended and said “I was lucky to be able to volunteer at this event.” She helped check in all of the foster families or adoptive parents and children. Kelly said she saw many familiar faces of current and past foster parents, and that the turnout was great!

Kelly shared that each child was given a voucher ticket for shoes and snacks. Tradehome Shoes set up stations for their employees to help fit the shoes to each child. This made them feel like they were receiving star treatment and were getting the right size shoe. Vikings players took pictures with the children and handed out backpacks and socks.

Kelly talked with Logan Johnson, Vikings Senior Manager of Community Relations, about a family that couldn’t make the event due to a scheduling conflict. The family had recently experienced a significant loss, and Johnson wanted to do something to help. He sent two pairs of shoes for the child in care, and invited the child to attend the weekend game, and a Viking’s practice.

The child was able to join the team on the field, and they huddled around, cheering “1-2-3-Vikings!”

The family toured the Vikings facility and got custom Vikings jerseys. Multiple players stayed and signed the child’s football, and he got to do “the griddy” dance for Justin Jefferson.

It was an awesome day he will never forget! 

Thank you to the Minnesota Vikings and Tradehome Shoes for such an incredible event!

To see pictures from the event go to Pictures

Kelly’s favorite quotes from the day

“What?! You mean there are real Vikings players in there? I have never seen a real Viking before!”

Quite a few of the kids were saying “This was the best day ever!” and “I am sleeping with these shoes on tonight!”

We would love to hear from you


Share your ideas and win a gift card!

We love hearing from you! Share your thoughts on the upcoming new year. What is your goal as a foster parent as we roll into 2024?

Complete this survey to share your ideas, and you'll have the opportunity to win a $10 gift card!

Share your ideas and be placed in a gift card drawing!

Entry forms must be submitted by Wednesday, November 22.

Help us find a family for Jeremiah


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 and 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, who are willing to be a mentor, respite provider, foster family, or adoptive resource for these youth.

Jeremiah (16), who goes by JJ, is polite, kindhearted, creative and athletic. He is also helpful and likes to please others. Jeremiah has a good sense of humor and is great at making others laugh. He can be quiet when you first meet him but warms up after getting to know you. Jeremiah enjoys being outside, swimming, playing sports; like basketball and playing video games. He also likes to spend time on the computer, listen to music, sing, and dance.

An ideal family for Jeremiah would be an active mom and dad who can provide him with clear communication, expectations, and structure.

Following adoption, Jeremiah would need to maintain contact with his siblings.

Ask more about Jeremiah     

Licensor's corner

Emergency or Incident Report Forms

Foster parents are required to file incident report forms to notify agency workers of any accidents, injuries, hospitalizations, marks or bruises, illnesses, assaults, threats or unusual behavior involving foster children. This is part of the “Agreement Between Foster Parents and Child Foster Care Licensing Agency” form.

Incident reports give foster parents an opportunity to explain how or why the incident occurred, as well as a way to document that the incident was reported as required. The form should be submitted to the licensor within 24 hours.

If your foster child is having an emergency situation, notify the child’s social worker immediately. If the situation is life-threatening and you need an immediate response, call 911. If the incident is not life-threatening but still an emergency, call and speak with the child’s social worker.

If you can’t reach the child’s social worker, call the social worker’s supervisor or call the 24-hour number (612-348-3552) to report the concern for Hennepin County placements. If the child has been placed through a different county, please call the 24-hour number for the placing county.

A reminder that consent for care by the department is generally required for all children in foster care, so please be sure to relay placement information.

Following any emergency, it is important to report the incident to the child’s social worker and your licensing social worker by phone or email as soon as possible. Things to immediately report to foster child’s social workers and your licensing social worker:

  • An injury that requires emergency medical treatment or hospitalization
  • A child whose behavior is injurious to self or others. If you cannot control the child, call 911 first.
  • A child returned from a parental visit with unexplained injuries.
  • A child telling you of alleged abuse or neglect.
  • A parent not returning a child at the end of a visit.
  • A lost or runaway child.
  • Any time you have called the crisis team.

The above is not a complete list. If in doubt about calling, it is better to notify the child’s social workers.

Incident Report Forms are located on the foster parent website or your licensor can mail you the form for you to make copies. The form should be submitted to the child’s workers and licensing along with any documentation such as medical records, etc. The form only goes to the assigned social workers. Foster parents are encouraged to be detailed in what happened, who was present, how the child was treated, etc.

In-person trainings October - December


Do you need in-person training hours? As a reminder, you need five hours of in-person training annually to fulfill your training requirements.

Please visit the Hennepin County foster care and adoption website and click on the plus sign next to Training.

To view the dates and times click on Hennepin County foster care training calendar. To register for a training please follow the instructions under “Registration for in-person trainings.”

If you have any questions, please reach out to your licensing worker.

Trainings available October-December

  1. Racial Identity Development and Self-esteem
  2. Let’s Move! Using Movement to Promote your Child’s Development
  3. Sensory Processing and Self-Regulation
  4. Mandated Reporting, Complaints, and Licensing Actions
  5. TBRI: A New Approach to Trauma
  6. Foster Care Court System
  7. How Trauma and Mental Health Impact Child Development and Behavior
  8. THINK TWICE, LIVE ONCE: Empowering Yourself and Others to Live a Drug-Free Life
  9. The Impact of Domestic Violence on Children and The Family System
  10. Common Behavioral Challenges in Foster Children
  11. Child Development Fundamentals
  12. Attachment and Trauma / Mind and Behavior
  13. Finding Hope in the Face of Adversity
  14. Supporting Foster, Adoptive, and Kinship Youth Through Emotional Intelligence
  15. The Ties That Bind - Kinship and Well-being for Children in Foster Care
  16. The Culture of Poverty
  17. The Trauma and Sleep Connection
  18. The Importance of ICWA and Redressing the Wrongs of History Discussion
  19. Inside Transracial Adoption
  20. The Wonder of Life Story
  21. The Art and Science of Being That One Caring Adult
  22. Using LGBTQ History to Support LGBTQ Kids
  23. Supporting Transitions: Into Foster Care, Between Homes, Back to & Removal from Home

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. At what age should a child get their first flu shot?
  2. Name 3 things a new applicant must do to receive the foster parent incentive.
  3. What is an ILP?
  4. What is the most I can get for the incentive?
  5. When you have the flu, how long are you contagious?
  6. Where can you find a Incident Report Form?
  7. How many hours of in-person training do you need annually?
  8. Who can earn a referral incentive for foster care?
  9. What age group is Independent Living Services for?
  10. What are 3 examples of what you should report to your licensing social worker?



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