The Stokes County Department of Social Services currently has 98 children in foster care and needs help recruiting additional licensed foster homes.
“The goal of foster parenting is to make a temporary care commitment to a child while working toward reuniting the child with his/her birth family,” said Department of Social Services Director Stacey Elmes. “Foster family’s help children feel secure and assist the child with the tasks of normal development. Foster families also assist the child’s birth family with reunification by providing information on the child’s progress, cooperating with visitation and offering support and encouragement to the child’s parent.”
Keeping children in their community is extremely important, according to Elmes. It allows the children to stay within the same school district, continue seeing the same medical providers, and gives easier access for parents and family to attend visitation.
“The first goal for the Department of Social Services is to reunify the foster child with their birth parents,” Elmes said. “Many people think that in order to foster you have to be interested in adopting a child, but fostering isn’t the same as adoption. Any adult who cares about children is encouraged to become a licensed foster parent.”
To receive a license, an application is submitted and then 30 hours of pre-service training is required. An additional 10 hours is expected annually. Foster parents must be 21 years of age or older, have a GED or high school diploma, and be willing to submit to physicals, criminal background checks, and home and fire inspections. The process can take an average of six months.
“If you’re interested in volunteering or assisting without becoming a licensed foster parent, we have some volunteer opportunities at various times throughout the year and would welcome any offer of assistance whether it be donations of time, money, or supplies,” Elmes said.
If you or someone you know is interested in opening your home and heart to a child in need, contact the Stokes County Department of Social Services, Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. at (336)593-2861, or you visit www.co.stokes.nc.us/dss for more information.
Amanda Dodson can be reached at 336-813-2426 or on Twitter at AmandaTDodson.