Who can be a foster parent?
- Be at least 21 years old
- Have a stable home and income
- Maintain a drug-free environment
- Be willing to be fingerprinted and have a criminal records check
- Complete all required training and be licensed by North Carolina
You should consider what it will mean to have a child join your family and how this will affect your family's life and the child’s life. With a full commitment and realistic expectations, foster parents must be ready to give a child or children opportunities to develop to their full potential physically, academically, socially, and emotionally.
What is looked for in a foster parent?
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do I have time to care for a child and provide physical, emotional, educational, and spiritual needs?
- Do I have support from my family, community, church, and friends who will be there for me through challenging times?
- Am I willing to advocate for my child? The child I foster will have special needs and possible unforeseen educational or mental health challenges.
- Am I ready to commit to a child short or long term, even if times get tough? I know a child deserves stability and continuity and will be counting on me.
- Am I able to support and encourage continued contact with important people in a child’s life including the birth family?
Any child needs stability and someone they can count on through happy times as well as the challenging times. Children need to stay in touch with people they love such as former foster parents, birth parents, siblings, and teachers. It is extremely important that foster families consider their openness to maintaining these important connections for children involved in the foster care system.
OK, I'm ready to become a foster parent. Now what?
North Carolina law requires that foster parents are licensed by the NC Division of Social Services with families working through their local county Department of Social Services (DSS) or a licensed private agency.
- Watch the mandatory Foster Parent Orientation video.
- Choose an agency either Richmond County DSS (910)997-8400 or private foster care placing agency. See links below.
- Attend an orientation with your chosen agency.
- Complete the TIPS-MAPP course. The TIPS-MAPP stands for Trauma Informed Partnering for Safety and Permanence – Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting. This is a minimum 30-hour course designed to inform participants about the child welfare system, the role of foster parents, develop participants’ skills to become successful foster parents and assess families to determine if fostering is the best fit for their family. While TIPS-MAPP is mandatory for foster parent licensure, it is strongly encouraged for families who desire to adopt from the foster care system as well. Parenting a child who has been in foster care is very different from parenting a child born to you. The information and skills you will gain from TIPS-MAPP are invaluable.
- Be Current or obtain First Aid/CPR Certification.
- Completion of Mutual Home Assessment for foster home licensing. This is not the same as an adoption home study.
- Your agency will complete your Foster Home Application and submit it to the NC Division of Social Services for review and licensure.
- Once licensed by the NC Division of Social Services, consider and accept foster care placements based on the needs of the children and your family’s parenting abilities and preferences.
- Relicensure of foster parents is required every 2 years.
There are differences between a county agency and a private agency in terms of services and training offered as well as potential fees for those services. Selecting an agency to represent you during this process is an important decision. We suggest that you contact several agencies to discuss your fostering goals to make an informed choice.
Alexander Youth Network
Our Therapeutic Foster Care program is designed for children and adolescents who would benefit from a therapeutic in-home environment for the 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.
Children’s Home Society
While CHS is perhaps best known for our work related to foster care and adoption, we are much more than a placement agency. Through our parent and teen education programs and professional training, we promote healthy environments to thousands of families.
Methodist Home for Children
At Methodist Home for Children, we provide safe, stable homes where children can thrive and live to their full, God-given potential. While not always traditional, an MHC home is where children and families are equipped to succeed.
Lutheran Services Carolinas
A sense of worth is important to everyone, no matter what age. Letting a child know that he or she is valued, loved, and truly cared for makes a difference. Taking on a significant role as a Foster Parent in North Carolina can mean the difference between true life change and just another placement.
The list above is certainly not comprehensive of all the agencies in and around Richmond County. Inclusion to the website does not imply endorsement by the Richmond County Department of Social Services or Richmond County Government and exclusion does not indicate disapproval. If you or your organization wish to be included in this list, please contact Richmond Health Services at (910) 997-8292.