NC Foster Care

CTSHealth continues increasing awareness this month about fostering in North Carolina and providing other avenues to help children in our community.

Becoming a foster parent in North Carolina typically involves several steps, including meeting eligibility requirements, completing training, and undergoing a thorough assessment process. Here's a general outline of the steps involved:

1. Meet Eligibility Requirements: Requirements may vary slightly depending on the agency you choose to work with, but generally, you must be at least 21 years old, financially stable, and able to provide a safe and stable environment for a child. You will need to pass background checks and have adequate space in your home.

2. Attend Orientation: Contact your local Department of Social Services (DSS), CTSHealth, or a licensed private child-placing agency to attend an orientation session. This will provide you with information about the foster care system, the responsibilities of foster parents, and the application process.

3. Complete Training: In North Carolina, you'll need to complete pre-service training, which typically covers topics such as child development, trauma-informed care, behavior management, and the foster care system. The training helps prepare you for the challenges and rewards of fostering.

4. Submit Application: After completing the training, you'll need to submit a formal application to become a foster parent. This application will include personal information, references, and possibly a home study.

5. Undergo Home Study: A social worker will visit your home to assess its suitability for fostering. This involves evaluating your living space, interviewing household members, and discussing your motivation for fostering.

6. Complete Background Checks: You and any adult household members will need to undergo background checks, including criminal history checks and child abuse registry checks.

7. Attend Interviews: You'll likely have one or more interviews with social workers to further assess your readiness to become a foster parent. These interviews may delve into your parenting philosophy, support system, and ability to work with the child welfare system.

8. Receive Licensing: Once you've completed all the requirements and passed the assessments, you'll receive your foster care license. This license allows you to provide care for foster children in your home.

9. Match with a Child: Once licensed, you'll work with your agency to identify a child or children who would be a good fit for your home. The agency will provide ongoing support and supervision throughout the foster care placement.

It's essential to stay patient and flexible throughout the process, as it can take several months to become licensed. Additionally, ongoing training and support will be available to help you navigate the challenges of fostering and provide the best possible care for the children in your home.

Perhaps becoming a foster parent isn’t feasible for you. There are several ways you can help children in need in North Carolina.

1. Volunteer with Local Organizations: Many organizations in North Carolina work directly with children in need. You can volunteer your time and skills to organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys & Girls Clubs, local homeless shelters, or after-school programs. These organizations often need mentors, tutors, or volunteers to help with activities and events.

2. Donate to or Fundraise for Child Welfare Agencies: Consider donating money, goods, or services to organizations that support children in need. This could include child welfare agencies, foster care organizations, or charities that provide resources and support to vulnerable children and families. You can also organize fundraising events or donation drives to collect essential items like clothing, school supplies, or toys for children in foster care or those experiencing homelessness.

3. Become a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA): CASA volunteers advocate for the best interests of children who are involved in the court system due to abuse or neglect. Volunteers undergo training to learn about the child welfare system and then work with attorneys, social workers, and judges to ensure that children receive the support and services they need.

4. Support Foster Families: Foster families often need additional support and resources to care for the children in their homes. You can offer to provide respite care for foster parents, allowing them to take a break while you care for their foster children temporarily. Additionally, you can donate items like clothing, diapers, or gift cards to help alleviate some of the financial strain of fostering.

5. Advocate for Policy Change: Get involved in advocacy efforts to support policies and legislation that benefit children and families in North Carolina. This could involve writing to your elected officials, participating in rallies or protests, or supporting organizations that advocate for child welfare issues.

6. Spread Awareness: Raise awareness in your community about the needs of children in North Carolina and how people can help. Share information on social media, host informational events, or volunteer to speak at local schools or community organizations about the importance of supporting vulnerable children and families.

By getting involved in these ways, you can make a positive difference in the lives of children in need in North Carolina and contribute to building a stronger, more supportive community for all.