The Division of Social Services licenses child-placing agencies for foster care, child-placing agencies for adoption, residential child-care facilities, residential maternity homes and foster homes. Our consultants are committed to protecting children who, for a variety of reasons, find themselves living apart from their families. Licensing regulations and the activities of regulatory staff are focused on reducing the physical, emotional, and psychological risks to children while seeking to ensure they receive appropriate, effective and responsive services.
Care and services must be provided in a way that values and respects the individual child and the unique circumstances that bring children into your program. It is important to remember that children need safe, permanent homes in a timely manner. The challenges in helping these children build promising futures are great, as are the rewards.
Why Become Licensed?
North Carolina General Statute 131 D-10.3 requires that child-caring institutions, residential child-care facilities, group homes, maternity homes, child-placing agencies for adoption, child-placing agencies for foster care, and foster homes be licensed by the North Carolina Division of Social Services. North Carolina General Statute131 D-10.7 makes it a misdemeanor to operate child-caring institutions, residential child-care facilities, group homes, maternity homes, adoption agencies, child-placing agencies, foster homes without first obtaining the required license.
Is There a Need for Your Program?
The applicant must conduct a needs assessment to determine if the proposed services are needed. At a minimum, speak with potential referral agencies such as the local Department of Social Services, juvenile court staff, public school system and the local management entity. Also consider the needs of the children to be served, demographics, service trends and the number of programs already in operation.
Location of Your Agency
Child welfare agencies should be located near the families they expect to serve and are accessible to a variety of community-based services. Group homes, foster homes, etc. should be close to schools, transportation, churches, medical and psychiatric resources, recreational and cultural opportunities, and emergency response services. The administrative office of a child-placing agency for foster care and a child-placing agency for adoption cannot be located in an occupied private residence, group home, maternity home, crisis pregnancy center or a similar occupied dwelling, business or facility.
Is Funding Available to Help Open New Programs?
The Division of Social Services does not provide financial assistance to open new programs. Historically, new programs have relied upon a variety of funding sources such as religious and charitable organizations, corporations, local citizens, civic groups and donor bases. After your program is operational, funding may be available from federal, state, or local governments or through private foundations. Please note that residential child-care facilities, maternity homes and child-placing agencies for foster care must be licensed and in business for one year before they are eligible to receive cost modeled rates. Information related to cost modeled rates can be found here.
County Departments of Social Services only receive reimbursement based on the North Carolina Standard Board Rate for children in group homes and child-placing agencies for family foster care until the rate setting requirements are met. Child-placing agencies providing therapeutic foster care will be eligible for funding from the Medicaid program for authorized therapeutic services. Maternity homes must be licensed, in business for one year and submit an audit before they are eligible to request a per diem rate and receive funds from the State Maternity Home Fund.
The Role of the Licensing Consultant
The licensing consultant helps agencies become familiar with and comply with state laws and licensing regulations. Our consultants conduct announced and unannounced site visits to determine compliance with laws and regulations. Your consultant will assist you in maintaining a current license and investigate reports that your program is violating licensing standards or laws. Licensing consultants represent the Division of Social Services and are given authority under North Carolina laws to inspect child welfare agencies, interview children in care and interview staff employed by the agencies.
How to Apply
Review the site for the type of program you want to operate. NC DSS is responsible for licensing the following: Child Placing Agencies, Maternity Homes, Residential Child Care Facilities, and Foster Homes. Become familiar with the rules and regulations for the program. Review the Phases for Licensure and complete the Inquiry Form.
North Carolina Administrative Rules for Children's Services are in 10A NCAC 70 and are available here.