Every day children find themselves without a home. In 2017, over 16,000 children in Minnesota experienced out-of-home care, according to the Department of Human Services (DHS). Often these children enter foster care unexpectedly. At a moment’s notice they are removed from the homes they know and, based on their age and situation, brought to a hospital for health screens or a shelter. They need security. They need comfort. They need Emergency Shelter Care (ESC).
When children are removed from homes, the county immediately begins working to find family or kin to care for the kids, or to identify an appropriate foster home. But finding these appropriate homes takes time. ESC foster parents help provide children a safe environment to be cared for while these arrangements are made.
The need is great. With the growing number of kids in foster care, comes a growing need for ESC homes. When counties face a shortage, children may be forced to stay in the hospital or shelter for days. After facing a disruption in their placement or being removed from their family, many of these children have experienced recent trauma. Ensuring we have enough ESC homes to care for youth helps us minimize the trauma and disruption they experience.
What to Expect as an Emergency Shelter Care Provider
As an ESC foster parent, there are some things you can expect:
- There is little to no expense to become licensed as an ESC provider.
- Children will typically be in your home for about 30 days.
- During this time, you are expected to meet the child(ren)’s basic needs for shelter, nutrition and education. You will receive a stipend to cover these costs. Additionally, we have opened a Community Closet that your worker may “shop” to set you up with a few new clothes or supplies that the child may immediately need.
- You will need to coordinate visits with licensor, county worker and appropriate family members.
There are also things you can control:
- You will be able to select the age range and number of children you are willing to provide for. There is a great need for families open to caring for more than one child at a time, so siblings can stay together!
- You can dictate when you are able to take placement. You may take “breaks” in accepting placements if you are vacationing, adopting, etc.
- There may be many unknowns when a child is first in need of ESC, but you will be able to indicate the types of needs you are able to provide care for. For example, you can decide if you’d take placement of a child requiring a feeding tube.
- Each time a placement is presented to you, you can say yes or no.
Though there are things you can control, there are also unknowns:
- Children will enter your home with proper medication, but the worker may not be aware of the extent of the children’s needs, especially if this is their first time entering care or if the placement happens during the night.
- Placements can happen at all hours of the day.
We are here for you to prepare you for ESC and to help you confidently care for the needs of the children who enter your home. To become an ESC provider, you will receive education and be licensed by us. We will work with you throughout your time as a provider, and help coordinate with counties.
Who makes excellent Emergency Shelter Care Providers?
Families who become ESC caregivers are very diverse, but there are some common qualities that help families provide for the unique needs of ESC. You might be perfect for ESC if you:
- Can demonstrate flexibility and patience.
- Are a current or past foster parent.
- Are a retiree, stay at home parent or teacher/professor on summer break or sabbatical. Placement often occurs without warning, making it difficult to coordinate child care, time off, school drop-off, etc. around a working schedule. If a two parent household, it is advantageous to have one parent home.
- Have a background in nursing or other medical professions and are open to caring for medically fragile children.
- Understand trauma and how it affects children.
Does this sound like your family? If so, we would love to talk to you about your individual circumstances and whether you could provide Emergency Shelter Care.Contact Us to Get StartedLearn More About Foster Care
We need foster homes of all kinds. If Emergency Shelter Care isn’t for you, please contact us to talk about other ways you can become a foster parent.