ST. PAUL, Minn. – It’s hoped that the number of Minnesota foster children who find forever homes will grow in the new year, with the implementation of what’s called Northstar Care for Children.
The program streamlines the process and access by combining Adoption Assistance, Relative Custody Assistance and family foster care and focusing on permanency for children.
There also are changes to financial assistance to make adoption a better option says Minnesota Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson.
“Before there was really a financial disincentive for parents who were doing foster care to adopt those kids because they get paid less, and these are kids with a lot of needs,” she explains. “So we’re really trying to do away with those financial disincentives so whenever possible we can have kids move from foster care into permanent families.”
In Minnesota as of last year, there were about 11,500 children in the foster care system.
Despite efforts to find forever homes for all, in Minnesota each year there are hundreds of teens who age out of the foster care system, although Jesson notes that extended care is available to help with that often tough transition into adulthood.
“So an 18-year-old can actually choose to remain in care and have those supports through the age of 21,” she says. “But of course, we all know how 18-year-olds are. Not everyone wants to take advantage of it, but for those who do, we see a lot better outcomes.”
Jesson says Minnesota also offers education and training vouchers, providing up to $5,000 a year to help current and former foster care and adoptive youth attend colleges, universities and vocational or technical programs.