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Families with children under the age of 18 who are experiencing neglect or abuse, and also pregnant adolescents, adolescent parents under the age of 18 and their children, and other adolescents; persons, including adolescents who are under the guardianship of the commissioner of human services as state wards; emotionally disturbed children and adolescents; and children and adolescents involved in or at risk of involvement with criminal activity. [Minnesota Statutes, section 256E.03, subdivision 2(a)(1)(2)(9)] 

Adoption is the legal process in which children become members of families other than their birth families. Adoptive parents have the same rights as birth parents.

Children who are in need of adoption include:

  • Children who are under guardianship of the state
  • Infants whose birth parents make an adoptive plan
  • Children from other states

Answers to your questions about adoptions

Completing an adoption in MN

Adoption: Finding families for waiting children in MN

There are no fees to adopt a child whose parents have lost the right to raise them. A contracted agency will help you through the process, such as:

Ampersand Families

Children’s Home Society of MN


North Homes

The Lake of the Woods County licensing unit, as agents of the Minnesota State Department of Human Services, are responsible for licensing and monitoring in-home child foster care providers within our county.

What is Foster Care?

Foster families provide homes for children whose families are unable to care for them. They are asked to take someone else’s child(ren) into their home, care for the child and treat the child as a member of their family.

Foster Care is more than having a child or children in your home on a temporary basis. It is an opportunity to work with the child’s biological parents to help build a child’s future. Often children continue to visit their families until they can be reunited. In addition to food, housing, and clothing, they need emotional support, guidance, and, above all, hope.

Learn more about Foster Care

Becoming Licensed

If you would like to become licensed, sign up to access the online forms and get started:

If you are interested in applying for a child foster care license or would like someone to discuss the foster care program with you, please call 218-634-2642 and ask to speak with the foster care licensing worker, Joanna Onstad. Or send an email inquiry to:

The Licensing Process Includes the following:

  • Background study
  • Home inspection by licensor
  • Three reference letters
  • Completed application and fact sheet
  • Orientation training
  • Home study
  • Possible inspection by State Fire Marshal
  • Ongoing training hours
  • Understanding of MN rule and statutes
  • Ongoing  training hours  

Resources for Foster Parents

  • AdoptUSKids is an educational website operated a national nonprofit membership organization focused on recruiting adoptive families for waiting children.
  • Children’s Law Center of Minnesota promotes the rights and interests of Minnesota’s children, especially children of color and children with disabilities, in judicial, child welfare, health care and educational systems.
  • is a website operated by KidsPeace, which prepares foster parents to care for children nationwide, including Minnesota.
  • MNADOPT is contracted by DHS to promote and support successful adoptions for Minnesota children and families.
  • National Foster Parent Association is a national nonprofit organization that supports foster parents in achieving safety, permanency and well-being for children and youth in their care.

By Minnesota Statute 626.556, the child protection system responds to situations where children are alleged to be maltreated, and it helps support families to safely care for their children.

How to Make a Child Abuse / Neglect Report

  • Anyone suspecting child abuse and / or neglect should call Lake of the Woods County Social Services at 218-634-2642 and ask to speak to a child protection worker to make a child maltreatment report. If there is an emergency where a child is in immediate danger, please call 911.
  • Written reports may also be faxed to 218-634-4520
  • For after hours child protection or children’s mental health emergencies, please call 218-395-0177

Child Protection and Mandated Reporting Resources:

The Children and Family Services Division provides voluntary services to strengthen families and build healthy communities. Services can be initiated by referral or request.

Parent Support Outreach Program

The PSOP program is for families with at least one child aged 10 and under. It is a voluntary program offering short-term services for parents when they need:

  • Information and support to connect with community resources
  • Help in planning how to meet the daily needs of their children and families
  • Awareness and education regarding child development and parenting
  • Assistance with planning and decision making during times of high stress or transitions

To make a referral or request services, call 218-634-2642 and request to speak to a PSOP worker.

Child Welfare / Family Support Services

Similar to PSOP, but for families with older children, Family Support Services offers help for families who need assistance with short-term or ongoing challenges:

  • Assist families to provide safety and stability for children in the home
  • Help families with stressors such as parent disabilities, child behavior problems, unmet basic needs, parent-child conflict, and children’s special needs
  • Connect families to community resources

To make a referral or request services, call 218-634-2642 and request to speak to a child welfare worker.


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Amy S. Ballard
206 8th Ave SE, Suite #200

PHONE: 634-2642
FAX: 634-4520

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The Social Services Office is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. To file a child protection report after hours, call Law Enforcement at 218-634-1143 or our after hours children’s emergency response number at 218-395-0177. We accept collect calls before 4:30 pm.