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COOK COUNTY CONNECTIONS: Licensing; Family Child Care and Child/Adult Foster Care

Dec 11, 2020 09:25AM ● By Editor

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By Heidi Akins, Licensor; Cook County Public Health and Human Services, Cook County MN - December 11, 2020

Cook County Public Health and Human Services (PHHS), in cooperation with the MN Department of Human Serivces, is responsible for licensing certain programs and providers in the community including family child care, child foster care and adult foster care. Each of these programs has specific criteria involved in becoming licensed and providers are required to follow Minnesota state statutes and rules to run these programs. The role of the Licensor is assist providers with the process of becoming licensed and to monitor and investigate compliance with Minnesota statutes and rules.

Family Child Care

Cook County currently has three family child care providers and two special family child care providers. Child care centers, such as the Cook County Child Care Center located in the YMCA and Sawtooth Elementary school builidings has a licensor who is employed by the state rather than the county. 

Family child care (FCC) providers are small business that are operated out of a home, usually the provider’s residence.  Each provider chooses the license class they wish to operate under. This dictates the child to staff ratio based on the number and ages of children. For example, a class A license allows for ten children to be cared for by one adult. Six of those chidlren can be under five years old. Of these six children, no more than three can be under age two, and no more than two can be under a year old. The remaining four children would need to be age five or older. For information regarding providers, including the licensing class they operate under, in the state of Minnesota, please visit this website

Special family child care (SFCC) providers are providers who likely do not operate out of their home and are run by an outside entity, such as a non-profit or a school collaborative. They have additional licensing requirements that are specific to what type of outside entity they are governed by. For example, a non-profit run SFCC is required to complete additional licensing paperwork including copies of the contracts that the not-for-profit agency maintains with the community employers or organizations to provide child-care services and a detailed narrative summary of the program. 

Requirements for all licensed child care providers include intial and ongoing training, specific physical space requirements that could include a fire marshal inspection, background checks for all people in the home age thirteen years and older, reference checks, program policy development, health and safety requirements and all other standards set by the state of Minnesota.

Child Foster Care

Child foster care is a licensed service that provides care to children in the child welfare system, most often child protection and children’s mental health services. There are currently five licensed child foster care providers in the county, three of those providers provide care to non-relative children and two provide care to relatives. The non-relative care providers are often asked to provide short- or long-term care to a variety of children (ages, developmental levels, trauma exposure, sibling groups, etc.) on short notice. They are asked to provide all duties of parenting including ongoing supervision, childcare, meals, making it to necessary appointments as well as working with social workers to go over safety and reunification plans.

Both relative and non-relative foster care providers are required to complete the licensing process and follow the statutes and rules created by the state of Minnesota. This process includes most of the criteria required of family childcare providers with additional requirements such as home safety checklists, home study assessment and other paperwork as required by the Department and Human Services. 

Adult Foster Care

Adult foster care is a licensed service that provides care to adults who require medical or mental health care in a home setting. There are currently no licensed adult foster care providers in Cook County. These providers could be in a family home or in a coorporate residential setting and range from one to five adults recieiving care in the home. They are licensed by the county agency or a private licensing agency. 

Adult foster care requirements are similar to the basic requirements of other licensed care providers. Additionally, they are required to create and update detailed information and plans regarding each person receiving services in the home.  Providers working in adult foster care settings are often requried to be skilled in medication distribution and other specific medical equipment needs of residents.

Providing Care During COVID-19

These providers are continuing to provide ongoing care to children and adults in the community during the pandemic. This has created the need for extra requirements, paperwork, coordination, equipment as well as additional stress on the providers. They have done so with immense grace and compassion. I want to express great appreciation and extend thanks on behalf of PHHS and the community to these providers for conducting this essential service that puts them at greater risk through the pandemic. THANK YOU and please know you have played a vital role in the stabilization of our community. 

Interested in becoming a provider?

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a licensed care provider in the community, please reach out to Cook County PHHS at 218-387-3620 or email [email protected] for more information.

Learn more about the licensing of family child-care, adult foster care and child foster care at the December 15, 2020 PHHS Board Meeting. The meeting is available to stream live on the Cook County website at Contact us via email at [email protected] or find us on Facebook @CookCountyPHHS  or on Instagram @Cook_County_PHHS to learn more about our work in supporting the health, safety and wellbeing of Cook County. 

County Connections is a column on timely topics and service information from your Cook County government. Cook County – Supporting Community Through Quality Public Service