Gaston County needs more foster parents and a recruitment program is set for Saturday, April 23, from 10 am to 1 pm at Dallas Park.
The event is sponsored by the Gaston County Department of Health and Human Services and will give persons interested in becoming foster parents the opportunity to speak with and ask questions of current and past foster parents in the county.
The event, organizers say, will also feature food, music, and games.
Over the past few years, the need for foster parents has grown significantly, organizers say, especially for teens and sibling groups.
Due to the lack of foster families in Gaston County, many of the children in local care are placed in other counties — with a significant number being two or more hours away. county officials said.
These children are placed away from their family, friends, churches, sports teams, and communities during an already difficult time in their life.
Studies show that children placed in their home schools and communities are more successful and reunification is much more attainable than those placed outside of their home communities, officials said.
The Department of Health and Human Services provided the following answers to commonly asked questions about foster care.
Why are children in foster care?
Children come into care through involvement with Child Protective Services due to allegations of abuse, neglect and/or dependency. Children may also come into care through court orders and involvement of the Office of Juvenile Justice.
What is the goal of foster care?
Foster Care provides a temporary, stable, loving home for a child until reunification with the biological family or caregiver can be established.
What happens when a child cannot be reunified with their parents?
Gaston DHHS works to identify permanency through adoption, kinship placement, and guardianship.
Who can become a foster parent?
- You may become a foster or adoptive parent if…
- You are single, married, or divorced
- You are of any race, gender, religion, or ethnic origin
- You are over the age of 21 years old
- You have stable income and can meet your own financial needs
- You have stable & appropriate housing
- You do not have to meet any education requirement but must be able to demonstrate the ability to read and write
- You can be a working parent
- You must pass criminal background checks
- You must be able to meet the needs of the children in foster care
- Your home has adequate space for each child (maximum of five youth including your own children)
- Relatives may also be foster parents if all criteria is met
How do I get started?
Step 1: The online orientation created by the State of North Carolina is a good way to see if you are ready to foster a child. Visit: www.ncswlearn.org/foster
Step 2: Complete the Foster/Adoptive Parent Screening Application.
What are the types of foster care?
Gaston DHHS has three types of foster homes:
- Family Foster Homes provide care of a child, incorporating the child as a part of the family until permanency can be obtained. This could be a few days to a year or longer.
- Emergency/Respite Foster Homes provide care for a child for a brief period of time. The reasons vary from pending relative home studies, emergency removal by protective services, an existing placement may need a break or have a family emergency, or the current placement disrupts.
- 18-21 Program Foster Homes provide housing for a foster youth that is transitioning from the foster care system to adulthood. Youth in the 18-21 program are typically attending college/technical school or have a job. These youth need someone to mentor, encourage and support them as they work to become productive members of society.
Myths about Foster Care and Adoption
Myth: You must have parenting experience.
Truth: Many foster/adoptive parents have had no parenting experience and have gone on to be wonderful adoptive/foster parents.
Myth: I have raised children, so I don’t need training.
Truth: Parenting children in foster care is not the same as parenting a biological child. Once you participate in the training, you will agree.
Myth: The younger the child, the fewer problems they will have.
Truth: Each child in foster care has experienced trauma and will respond in different ways, often communicated through behaviors. Younger children often have a difficult time communicating feelings.
Myth: As a foster parent, I will not have to interact with the birth family.
Truth: The birth family is an important part of the child’s life. The more a foster parent interacts with a birth family, the easier the transition to permanency will be.
Myth: All these children need is love.
Truth: Most of these children have someone who loves them. They need safety, stability, rules, patience and understanding.