Guest Editorial: Foster care crisis needs influx of money, families

Guest Editorial: Foster care crisis needs influx of money, families
March 09
05:50 2017

Foster care for abused, neglected and dependent children is in a “state of crisis” in North Carolina, according to state officials and others studying the issue.

Ideally, foster care finds good homes on a temporary basis for youngsters and teens who cannot live with their own families for a variety of reasons –homelessness, parent illness or alcohol and drug abuse.

For the past few years, however, the number of children needing foster care has grown far faster than the number of families willing to take them. The Children’s Home Society, the nonprofit that oversees most foster placements in North Carolina, reports it had nearly 3,000 referrals last year, but only 364 new families to take them. Since 2011, the number of North Carolina children in foster care has grown from 11,000 to 15,000.

What’s going on? As with all social problems, the causes are complicated, but a few issues stand out.

One of them, according to many officials, is the much-ballyhooed opioid epidemic. Roughly 40 per-cent of children entering the foster care system are there because of parents’ substance abuse, a percent-age that’s grown in recent years.

Also, funds for in-home services, such as monitoring or counseling _ which provide an alternative to foster care in many case _ have been cut in recent years, largely due to reduced federal funding.

Meanwhile, nobody gets rich in the foster care business. Foster parents are compensated, but the rates are typically less than $500 per month for children aged 5 and younger and not much more than $600 per month for teenagers.

Money can solve some of these problems. The Duke Endowment is to be commended for its recent four-year, $3.7 million grant to the Children’s Home Society. Let’s hope that other foundations and corporations follow its lead.

The General Assembly, meanwhile, should strongly consider making up former funding levels for social service agencies working with troubled families. We have a budget surplus at the moment, so it’s a good time.

In the end, however, what’s needed are more stable, open-hearted couples willing to offer a haven to a child in trouble. Call the Children’s Home Society at 1-800-632-1400 or visit to help.

We can’t think of a higher calling.

The Gaston Gazette

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