Douglas County realigns rates for foster care

New rate structure determines respite care rates for foster families based on the child's needs.

Government Center in Superior.
Government Center Boardroom, Superior.
Jed Carlson / File / Superior Telegram
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SUPERIOR — Foster care providers are vital to child welfare work, but Douglas County’s rate of $25 per day was lower than many surrounding counties, and it didn’t take into account the level of care a child may need, officials said.

The Douglas County Board corrected that Thursday, Jan. 19, when it adopted new respite care rates that are based on a child’s needed level of care based on a Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths assessment.

Under the new procedure, the daily respite rate ranges from $35 to $65, depending on the level of care the assessment determines a child needs.

Foster care providers would receive the lower rate for children with fewer needs and behaviors and would increase by $10 per day as the level of care needed increases.

The assessments are given to every child placed in out-of-home care, said Cindy Ellefson, youth and family services supervisor in the Department of Health and Human Services.


“We thought this would be a much more fair representation because our foster families do a lot for us,” Ellefson said. “To pay $25, which we were paying for years across the board, that was just really a low rate. We felt it only fair to increase it incrementally based on the needs assessments.”

The county board also added a one-time $50 payment for licensed providers who take in a child on an emergency basis.

According to a memo from Health and Human Services director Anna Carlson, foster care providers take calls at all hours of the day and night and serve children in greatest need in Douglas County. She said the current budget for respite care can absorb the rate increases without issue.

Shelley Nelson is a reporter with the Duluth Media Group since 1997, and has covered Superior and Douglas County communities and government for the Duluth News Tribune from 1999 to 2006, and the Superior Telegram since 2006. Contact her at 715-395-5022 or
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