MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — According to the Minnesota Department of Human Services, more than 12,000 children and young adults experienced out of home care in 2021, and the need for more foster parents continues to grow.

Foster parents may be single or married, have children or not, and either rent or own a home. They play a critical role in caring and nurturing a child or teenager, often during times of crisis.

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“We were all adopted, my parents continued to foster children throughout our childhood, and just bringing people into our home,” said Brooklyn Park foster mother Martha Winkleman.

For Winkleman, fostering was a way to honor her father’s legacy. Now, she’s a single foster mom in Hennepin County, doing just that.

“We opened our home, opened my heart, and the gift has been mine to receive ever since,” she said.

(credit: CBS)

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In Minnesota, caretaker drug use continues to be the most common reason children and youth are placed in foster care, followed by allegations of neglect and child mental health needs. As for leaving foster care, most are reunited with family, some were adopted, and others aged out.

Mike and Missy Evans have fostered 10 children since 2015 and adopted Grace, their first placement. Now, they’re in South Africa adopting their fourth daughter. In search of support, Evans founded Foster One, based out of Substance Church.

“We have hundreds of people who aren’t foster parents but are supporting foster parents through meals, through encouragement, through support, different things like that, and it’s those people who are making it possible that foster families can continue on for a long term,” Evans said.

He suggests interested people start by asking questions and learning the challenges, but also the rewards of fostering children and youth. To become a foster parent in Minnesota, applicants should expect a background check, home visit and training courses among other requirements.

“The county also provides a lot of support in terms of, you know, daycare for children of age to go to daycare, so it works,” Winkelman said. “It’s not as complicated as you would think or you would imagine.”

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The Minnesota Department of Human Services has resources available for interested foster parents and current foster parents who need support.

Kirsten Mitchell