Foster Care & Adoption
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 Department of Social Services (DSS) can not ensure a child's safety in their home, DSS contacts a local judge and requests custody of the child so the child can be placed in a foster home to ensure their safety. 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 can 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 some cases it is determined children can not return to their birth family. In these situations, children may become free for adoption and foster parents may be considered as adoptive parents.
Children in Foster Care in Wilkes County
Wilkes County currently serves 230 children in foster care. DSS has 30 licensed foster homes. It is very important to keep these children in their own community because it helps keep them connected to their environment which includes school, church, and friends which normally results in less time they spend in foster care. Even if you only have a child for a few months, you have the ability to teach that child lifelong lessons.
Paying For the Child's Care
Foster parents receive financial compensation for a child's room, board, and other living expenses. The rate of compensation is depending on the age of the child. Wilkes DSS gives their foster homes an additional incentive per month over and above the state's rate. Foster parents also receive clothing allowance two times per year for each foster child in their home. Foster parents who are employed outside of the home may also qualify for daycare assistance.
Who Can Be a Foster Parent
Foster parents must:
- Be at least 21 years old
- Have a stable home and income. You may rent or own your home
- Be willing to be finger printed and have a criminal record check
- Maintain a drug free environment
- You can be married or single
- Complete all required training and be licensed by the state of North Carolina
Foster Parent Expectations
Foster parents are invited to attend all meetings pertaining to the children placed in their home. This includes meetings at DSS, school, and court. Foster parents are asked to take children to their medical appointments as well. DSS does have staff to assist with transporting children to appointments when foster parents work outside of the home. Each foster child has a social worker who will visit in the foster home on a monthly basis and maintain telephone communication with the foster parent on an on-going basis.
Foster Parents & Licensing
North Carolina state law requires that all foster parents be licensed to care for children.
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. Foster parents are provided additional training hours each year to maintain their license.
Become a Foster Parent
To find out more on how to become a licensed foster parent and to get more information that will help you decide if foster parenting is right for you contact Wilkes DSS at (336)651-7490.