We have more children in foster care than we have homes available to care for them.
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DSS has the responsibility to work with birth parents and other extended relatives to address safety issues so that children can return home.
The Department does provide monthly assistance to help offset the costs of caring for a child in custody. Foster families use these funds to pay for food, clothing, school supplies, field trips, haircuts and other expenses associated with providing a child a safe and enriching home environment. The amount of assistance varies depending on the age of the child.
In addition to monthly assistance, the Department is involved with several programs which provide funding for children to participate in special activities.
Call us at 910-798-3500 to talk to a foster parent licensing social worker.
When a home in New Hanover County is not available, the child must be placed in another county. What that means is a child who has already experienced the trauma of abuse or neglect and then separation from his or her family, must also separate from his/her neighborhood, school, friends, doctors and community. The further a child is from his/her family, the more difficult it is to arrange visits and keep the family connected. We find that even when children have experienced abuse or neglect, most still very much love their family and want to visit parents and siblings.
Of the approximately 300 children in out of home placement, 23% reside with relatives, 38% reside in New Hanover County and 39% reside outside of New Hanover County.
The Department of Social Services has the responsibility to reunite families whenever it is safe to do so. The Department usually works with birth parents toward getting their children back for about a year before pursuing other permanent placement options for the child.
There are times when children cannot return to their parents because of on-going safety issues and there are no other appropriate extended family members to care for the child.
The Department’s first responsibility is to attempt to safely return a child to his/her parents or other family members. If the Department is unable to identify a safe and willing caretaker within the family, we turn to our foster parents to provide a permanent home for the child.
Foster families provide a temporary home for children, who for a variety of reasons including abuse, neglect or dependency cannot remain in the home of their parents or guardian and have entered Department of Social Services (DSS) custody.
Relatives who are providing a home for a child in DSS custody can become licensed as foster parents for that child - provided they meet all of the licensing rules- however, most of the time foster parents are people from the community willing to open their heart and home to a child they do not know.
Although designed to be temporary, there are times when a child is unable to return to his or her birth family and foster parents may adopt the children they've grown to love.
See our FAQs on Adoption from Foster Care for more information.
Just like each child in foster care is unique so is each foster family. Foster families, including relatives who chose to license as foster parents, must complete an in-depth licensing process which includes:
The list is not all inclusive of foster home licensing requirements. Please contact us to learn more about becoming a foster parent. Call us at 910-798-3566 or email the New Hanover Foster Care.
Yes. Department of Social Services supports a philosophy called "Shared Parenting" where foster and birth families work together for the support of a child. Some examples of Shared parenting would be foster and birth parents attending school meetings together, participating in agency meetings and exchanging photographs so that the child feels connected with all the adults in his/her life. Foster parents can be good mentors for birth parents as well. Potential foster parents learn about shared parenting at length during the pre-service training class (MAPP- Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting).