Often times victims of abuse or neglect, children in foster care can have a damaged sense of self worth and require special support and nurturing throughout their foster care journey. This month, we are shining our #SpotlightOnCLT on our local nonprofit partners that support both the vulnerable children in the foster care system as well as the individuals and families who take them into their care.
What exactly is foster care?
Foster care is a temporary placement provided by the State to provide children who, for various reasons, cannot live at-home with their parents. Children in foster care can be placed to live in residential settings, including relative and nonrelative homes, as well as group homes, and institutions.
How does it work?
North Carolina State law requires that all foster parents be licensed to care for children in their home and 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 provide supervision and support for the foster parents (Carolina Family Connections).
While the average age of a child entering foster care is seven years old, in North Carolina, a child can remain in the foster care system up to age 21 if they are enrolled in secondary education or work more than 80 hours a month. However, if they do not meet the particular criteria, they age out of the system at 18 years old (Juvenile Law Center). Of all the children who left the foster care system in 2018, whether that be through reunification with their parents, adoption, or aging out, the average child spent 19.2 months in foster care (AFCARS Report).
The GOOD News...
There are local nonprofits that serve children in foster care as well as continue to support them once they have aged out, to enhance their lives and provide them with opportunities to grow. Check out the list below of our local nonprofit partners who serve in this space and VOTE NOW for the organization you would like to see take home $5,000 from Amy and Brian France Foundation!
Elon Homes of North Carolina
Elon Homes for Children and Youth has been serving North Carolina’s at-risk children for 105 years and has a rich and proud heritage in the field of child development and services. They care for young people from a variety of backgrounds and with a wide range of needs, strengths, opportunities and dreams and their foster care program specializes in keeping sibling groups together in the same home.
While their services have evolved over the century since their founding to best meet the needs of low-income or otherwise disadvantaged children and youth in the Charlotte region and across North Carolina, through the years, their mission has remained steadfast: to prepare young people to lead fulfilling and independent lives by providing safe haven, education and employment opportunities for the children and youth in their care. They serve their mission through three programs Community-Based Family Foster Care, Foster Care Village and Foster Care Parent Program. VOTE NOW for Elon Homes!
Carolina Family Connections
Incorporated in 2006, Carolina Family Connections is a nonprofit agency providing family foster care for children in need of out-of-home placement in North Carolina. Carolina Family Connections recruits, licenses, trains, and supervises family foster homes to provide out-of-home placements for children who have been abused and/or neglected. They work hard to advocate for the needs of children in foster care that require special care, support and nurturing.
Carolina Family Connections also provides pre-placement assessments (adoption home studies) to families wishing to expand their families permanently through adoption, as well as supervision after adoptive placements have been made and post-adoption consultation services. The leadership of Carolina Family Connections has extensive experience in the foster care field working with children, foster families, birth families, and community professionals. VOTE NOW for Carolina Family Connections!
Children’s Home Society
Our mission at Children's Home Society of NC is to promote the right of every child to a permanent, safe, and loving family. Through educational programs and family preservation, we strive first and foremost to keep families together and healthy. When that is not possible, we help provide children with healthy family settings through foster care and adoption. In 2018, CHS served 18,453 individuals through prevention, foster care to permanency, and post-permanency services, including family training and education, clinical services, and professional training to children, parents, and professionals. VOTE NOW for Children's Home Society!
Foster Village Charlotte
Today there are nearly 600 children in the Charlotte foster care system alone due to neglect, physical and sexual abuse, drug addiction, and domestic violence. They typically arrive at foster homes empty handed and with little notice. It's the foster family's role to quickly supply these children with basic needs, help them feel safe and welcomed, and stay emotionally strong as they support children who have experienced trauma and loss. By creating a village of support for local children in foster care and those caring for them, Foster Village Charlotte meets urgent needs, provides educational and emotional support, and advocates for lasting change in the welfare system by equipping children and foster parents with all that they need. They exist to stabilize foster families, leading to better retention of high quality homes and a decrease in disruptions for children that yields increased attachment and healthier long term outcomes. Their goal is to retain quality, caring foster families through support, education, and a community network while bringing dignity and order to a foster child. VOTE NOW for Foster Village Charlotte!
Congregations for Kids
Congregations for Kids (CFK) is a bridge organization that provides clear pathways for churches, groups and individuals to support youth in foster care. As a trusted partner of Mecklenburg County Youth and Family Services, CFK focuses on creating relational systems of support and has direct access to meet the needs of foster youth through their four pathways to support: Foster, Mentor, Serve & Give. They have a Weekend Miracles Mentorship program pairs trained mentors with an older child (9-19) in foster care and also offer a foster parent licensure course tailored to the faith community that includes child care, dinner and wrap around training. CFK knows that they cannot indefinitely prevent trauma, abuse, & neglect, but believes that together we can make sure that there are more than enough families waiting to offer safe and loving homes to our city’s vulnerable children. VOTE NOW for Congregations for Kids!
Least of These Carolinas
Least of These Carolinas’ purpose is to identify and service the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of children and their caregivers, with the primary focus on children in foster/kinship care. They are currently celebrating seven years of helping youth in foster care and have a multitude of programs and services that allow children in care to maintain some sense of normalcy. The children they serve are referred to them through the Guardian ad Litem volunteers, the department of social services and their church partners. They believe every child in foster care deserves to feel love, to have a safe place to lay their head at night and exist to impact youth in foster care in such a way that they stop the cycle. VOTE NOW for Least of These Carolinas!
Thompson Child and Family Focus
Not all children get the help or love they deserve and neglect is the #1 reason children are removed from their homes. Thompson strongly believes fragile, suffering children can be made whole again. To support this belief, their work centers on the clinical treatment and well-being of children and families. Founded in 1886 as an orphanage, today Thompson operates four distinct campuses, each providing comprehensive education, intensive treatment and care for children (birth to 18) in need, as well as counseling to adults of all ages. Last year, Thompson programs served over 3,617 children and families. The overarching goal for all Thompson programs is to bring at-risk children forward into safety and fulfillment, and to ensure families thrive. Thompson’s Foster Care program identifies, trains, and continually supports dedicated, engaged families who can provide long-term and respite care for children re-entering community life. Their training course introduces potential foster parents to Thompson and provides guidance on the certification process. VOTE NOW for Thompson!
Alexander Youth Network
Many of the children served at Alexander Youth Network have never had enough. Not enough love, food, shelter, or safety. For varied reasons, relationships with the adults in their lives have not been positive. That’s where Alexander comes in. To provide a safe space for children to heal and learn how to trust again. Unlike other mental health providers, Alexander Youth Network offers a full continuum of care – meaning that a child has a treatment team of caring adults that stay with them throughout the healing process. They offer a therepeutic foster care program that is designed for children and adolescents who would benefit from a therapeutic in-home environment for treatment of their mental health problems, trauma-based behaviors, or severe emotional disturbances. This program offers children a structured home environment with a focus on therapeutic skill building and is often used to aid children who will transition to a less intensive program before returning to a permanent home setting. During their temporary stay at a therapeutic treatment homes, treatment parents manage their behavioral and medical needs while children learn to self-regulate, and are eventually able to re-integrate into community settings. VOTE NOW for Alexander Youth Network!