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FOSTER CARE

What is Foster Care?
Who Are the Children?
Who Pays For The Child's Care?
Who Can Be A Foster Parent?
How Do I become a Foster Parent?
Foster Care Initiatives

What is Foster Care?

Foster care is a temporary living arrangement for abused, neglected, and dependent children who need a safe place to live when their parents or another relative cannot take care of them. Often their families face issues such as illness, alcohol or drug addiction, or homelessness.

When the county Department of Social Services ( DSS) believes a child is not safe, and a judge agrees, DSS takes custody of that child and finds a foster home for him or her. Length of stay in foster care varies from a few days to much longer.

Foster families are recruited, trained, and licensed to care for abused and neglected children temporarily, while their parents work with social work professionals to resolve their family issues. Relatives may be licensed as foster parents.

The foster family, DSS and the birth family work together to return children to their own homes as quickly as possible. In cases where the child becomes free for adoption, foster parents may be considered as adoptive parents.

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Who Are the Children?

Thousands of children in North Carolina enter the foster care system each year, and range in age from infants to 18 years old. All foster children have unique backgrounds, experiences, personalities, strengths and needs.

Some children in foster care require extensive care for physical or emotional handicaps and disabilities.

Some also require help with undisciplined and delinquent behaviors. Most foster children do not have a strong sense of belonging or self-worth. Many have been victims of physical or sexual abuse. All children who are in foster care require special care, support and nurturing.

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Who Pays For The Child's Care?

Foster parents receive financial compensation from the placement agency for a child's room, board, and other living expenses. Sometimes there are supplemental payments for the care of children with special needs.

Although the amount of the financial compensation payments may vary from agency to agency and sometimes based on the individual needs of the foster child, the current state recommended rates are as follows:

  • $475 for children ages 0 - 5
  • $581 for children ages 6 - 12
  • $634 for children ages 13 and over

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Who can be a Foster Parent?

Foster parents must:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Have a stable home and income
  • Be willing to be finger printed and have a criminal records check
  • Maintain a drug free environment
  • Complete all required training and be licensed by the state of North Carolina

To find out more on how to become a licensed foster parent you can visit our Licensing web page, call NC KIDS at 1-877-NCKIDS (1-877-625-4371) or contact your local County Department of Social Services. Your local County Department of Social Services can offer information that will help you decide if foster parenting is right for you.

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Do Foster Parents have to be Licensed?

Yes, North Carolina state law requires that all foster parents be licensed to care for children in their care. These licenses are issued by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. County Departments of Social Services and several private child caring agencies are authorized to work with potential foster parents to assist them with the licensing process and to provide supervision and support for the foster parents.

Potential foster parents receive 30 hours of training. The training covers topics such as child abuse and neglect, working with birth parents, and helping foster children deal with the issues they face. It also helps the potential foster parents think about how parenting another child may affect their family.

How Do I Become a Foster Parent?
To find out more on how to become a licensed foster parent you can visit our Licensing web page, call NC KIDS at 1-877-NCKIDS (1-877-625-4371) or contact your local County Department of Social Services. Your local County Department of Social Services can offer information that will help you decide if foster parenting is right for you.

Foster Care Initiatives

Challenge for Children
The vision of a safe and permanent home within one year for every child for whom a county Department of Social Services has legal custody or placement responsibility is an essential element of our mission to ensure that every child in North Carolina has a safe, permanent, nurturing home. To realize this vision, we began issuing the "Challenge for Children" in 1997. It has been reissued annually since; and as a result, we have come closer to realizing our vision. In the Challenge for Children, we ask every county Department of Social Services in North Carolina to make foster care backlog reduction a top priority for its child welfare system. The backlog includes all children who remain in the custody or placement responsibility of a county Department of Social Services for more than 12 months.

In response to accepting the challenge, each county participating is offered special training opportunities and is provided additional technical support. In addition, letters of recommendation are sent to legislators and public officials in each participating county.

In 1997, 67 counties submitted formal statements accepting the challenge. Since then each year the number of counties accepting the challenge has increased with all 100 counties accepting the challenge in 2003.

Please feel free to email us if you have more questions, comments or concerns.

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We strive to keep this information as accurate as possible. If information on this page needs to be updated, please Email us.

 

Page Modified 10/15/2012

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