Frequently Asked Questions
What is foster care?
Foster Care is the temporary placement of children outside of their own homes. It occurs because of abuse, neglect, or other family problems which may result in a parent or relative not being able to care for the child. A foster care placement can also result from behaviors that the child may be exhibiting. Often these 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. The length of stay in foster care varies from a few days to several months to possibly even several years.
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 and, or, the child works to resolve the behavior they are currently exhibiting.
It is always in the best interest of the child to be reunited with their parents when possible, and it is the goal of the Department of Social Services and other agencies to work with families in the hopes of reuniting them. However, when that’s not possible, measures are taken to get the children adopted or prepared for independent life.
Fostering allows children and teenagers, who are unable to live with their parents, the chance to thrive in a secure and supportive home. Fostering is challenging and takes time, commitment, and patience.
The children placed into foster care are from a diverse range of backgrounds and will display different behavior depending upon their situations and experiences. You will be trained as foster parents to work with the different behaviors that you might encounter, and you will also have professional support to guide you.
What kinds of children need foster care?
Thousands of children in North Carolina enter the foster care system each year. They range in age from infants to 18. All foster children have unique backgrounds, experiences, personalities, strengths, and needs.
Some foster children also require help with undisciplined and delinquent behaviors. Most foster children do no 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.
What are the different types of foster care?
There are two different types of Foster Care in the State of North Carolina.
The first kind is the one that you are probably the most familiar with, and that is what we call Level I Family Foster Care. With Level I Foster Care your role is to provide a loving, nurturing environment for children of all ages in need of a temporary placement.
The second kind of foster care is Level II Therapeutic Foster Care (TFC) which is a family-based, service delivery approach providing individualized treatment for children, youth, and their families. Treatment involves multiple services, and key interventions and support is provided by Therapeutic Foster Parents, who are trained, supervised, and supported by Qualified Professional Staff.
Therapeutic Foster Parents are viewed as colleagues and part of a professional team. Therapeutic Foster Parents serve both as caregivers of children with treatment needs (the foster role) and as active agents of planned change (the treatment role). So, in other words, a Therapeutic Foster Parent is a professional parent who is part of a specialized treatment team that provides treatment and teaching to children who have special needs.
Do foster parents receive compensation?
Yes! Foster Parents are compensated for their services with tax-free money from the State of North Carolina. The majority of the money received has to go to the welfare of the child in care, and the rest is compensation to the parent for providing the services.
Who is responsible for the child’s expenses?
Medicaid covers the child’s medical expenses. The foster care agency provides a monthly check to help cover the child’s room and board. The monthly sum is not by any means extravagant, so foster families may end up supporting the child with their own funds as well.
Can we pick out the child we want?
You can express a preference on the age, race, and sex of the child that you think would best fit in with your family. We encourage and ask that you remain open minded in trying different demographics of children. However, you are not obligated to accept the child offered.
Can a single person be a foster parent?
Yes. Many of our parents are single parent homes, but they all have good supports in place to help with the care of the child.
How many foster children can we take?
How many foster children you can care for depends on factors such as your ability, your enthusiasm, how many children you have of your own, and how much room you have in your home. The maximum number of children, including your own children, is set by North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Licensing Standards.
You can only have two therapeutic children in your home with no more than four total children which includes your own children.
While for family foster care, you can have up to five children in your home, and that total includes your own children.
How long does it take to get a foster child?
The licensing and training process takes from four to six months. Once that process and your training are completed, children can be placed with you.
Do foster children need individual bedrooms?
A foster child can share a room with your children or other foster children of the same sex and same age. The child must have a bed of his or her own. A foster child may not share a bedroom with an adult. We recommend that the child have their own bedroom for safety and privacy.
Can we take our foster child on vacation with us?
In most cases, yes. We want the child to feel like they are a part of your family. But if it involves out-of-state travel, you must call your child’s caseworker in advance for approval.
Can our foster children go to church with us?
Yes. Usually, you will get children whose religious background is similar to your own. But if a foster child is of a different faith, he or she must be allowed to attend worship in that faith.
Do the birth parents visit the child?
In most cases, yes. In fact, visits between parents and children are an essential part of the efforts to reunite families. The child’s caseworker has the primary responsibility for planning visits and arranging supervision, if required. The caseworker will talk with you and the child’s parents to work out the time and location of the visits.
Do foster parents have to be licensed?
Yes, North Carolina state law requires that all foster parents are licensed to care for foster children in their care.
These licenses are issued by the NC Department of Health and Human Services. County Department of Social Services and private child caring agencies are authorized to work with potential foster parents, to assist them in the Licensing Process, and to provide supervision and support.
What are the training requirements for becoming a foster parent?
Potential foster parents receive 30 hours of training. The training covers topics such as child abuse, neglect, working with birth parents, and helping foster children deal with the issues they face. The training also helps the potential foster parents think about how parenting another child may affect their family. For more information, check out our page Start Fostering.
Can we adopt the child that comes into our home?
The first goal is to return foster children to their families when that is possible. However, if a foster child who has been in your home for some time becomes available for adoption, you can discuss your interest in adopting him or her with the caseworker. At that time, you would have to meet all of the regular requirements for becoming an adoptive parent.