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Urgent need for foster parents in Guilford County: Here's how to help

Kids are being housed in the Department of Social Services office building due to the lack of foster parents and homes for them.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Right now there is an urgent need in North Carolina for more foster parents. In fact, things so dire in Guilford County, it’s forcing the Department of Social Services to house some kids in the DSS office building.

If you’re interested in helping, the state website says “Keep in mind “you don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent!”  That said, there are a few questions to ask yourself to see if you’re ready to foster or adopt:

  • Do I have time to care for a child and provide physical, emotional, educational and spiritual needs?
  • Do I have support from my family, community, church and friends who will be there for me through challenging times?
  • Am I willing to advocate for my child? The child I foster or adopt will have special needs and possible unforeseen educational or mental health challenges.
  • Am I ready to commit to a child short or long term, even if times get tough? I know a child deserves stability and continuity and will be counting on me.
  • Am I able to support and encourage continued contact with important people in a child’s life including the birth family?

How to become a foster parent

If that sounds like you, the state says, “The processes of becoming a foster and or adoptive parent in North Carolina involves a thorough assessment and mutual selection process that includes home visits, interviews, and criminal background checks.”

North Carolina law requires foster parents to be licensed by the state. You can get that by working through the county or through a licensed private agency.

The process requires you take a 30 hour course about the child welfare system, the role of foster and adoptive parents and skills needed to be successful in raising the kids.

“Parenting a child who has been in foster care is very different from parenting a child born to you,” the state website says. “The information and skills you will gain from TIPS-MAPP or an equivalent are invaluable.”

The state website outlines the following steps for becoming a foster parent.

In an effort to guide families through this process, below are specific steps to get you started.

Foster Parenting Steps:

Watch the mandatory Foster Parent Orientation video
2. Choose an agency, local DSS or private foster care placing agency. Links are provided below.
3. Attend an orientation with your chosen agency.
4. Complete TIPS-MAPP course.
5. Completion of Mutual Home Assessment for foster home licensing. This is not the same as an adoption home study.
6. Your agency will complete your Foster Home Application and submit it to the NC Division of Social Services for review and licensure.
7. Once licensed by the NC Division of Social Services, consider and accept foster care placements based on the needs of the children and your family’s parenting abilities and preferences.
8. Relicensure of foster parents is required every 2 years.

If you want to discuss your ability to foster and or adopt please call our hotline at 888-625-4375 or email us at nc.kids@dhhs.nc.gov.

Impact of Foster Parents

Credit: CBS News

Being a foster parent or adopting is not easy but it is so rewarding according to the people do it. CBS News’s Steven Hartman met a young man who shows the deep impact a kind person can have.

8-year-old Robbie Gay loves an underdog – always going for the strangest, oldest, least-adoptable pup at the pound.

"There's something about old dogs that I just like,” he said.

"He knows what it feels like not to be loved and cared for.  He's the most hopeful, optimistic, and genuinely caring kid – who has absolutely no reason to be that way,” said Robbie's adopted mom, Maria.

Maria says before he entered the foster system, Robbie was a holy terror – so neglected and abused - he was twice hospitalized with brain injuries.  And yet, 2 years ago, Maria and her husband Charles adopted him, anyway.

"It was just a good day,” Robbie said.

He has come a long way – except in this one respect: Maria says he could not cry. 

Despite the horrors of his past, or maybe because of them, the kid was a stone.  Until one of Robbie's old dogs, Buffy, had to be put down.  He wanted to hold her 'til the very end – and insisted his mom take pictures of the process - perhaps because he knew what was about to happen.

After Robbie finally let go, he told his mom, "I know how it feels not to be loved or cared for and I don't want any animal of mine to feel that way."

Nor does he want any foster kid to feel that way.

"Because people don't want older people and older dogs.  They only want babies and puppies,” Robbie said.

Someday Robbie wants to adopt older foster children himself. But until then - to show his commitment and do what he can. He has vowed to adopt as many old dogs as his parents will allow.

Today it's a lame, snaggletooth poodle named Molly.  Molly's owner had to go into assisted living.  But now Molly has a new home thanks to the sweet, little boy who sees his reflection, in the eyes of the suffering.

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