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Hundreds of thousands of children need homes in the United States. How to Foster or Adopt in NC

Hundreds of thousands of children spend time in the foster care system in the United States every year, child protection advocates saywith tens of thousands of them waiting to be adopted.

For adults who have the ability and means to help, foster care — temporarily caring for a child or children who cannot live at home — and adoption — taking formal custody and responsibility for one or more children — is an option in North Carolina.

Here’s what to know about the foster care system in the Charlotte area and how to become a foster parent and consider adoption.

How many children are in foster care in North Carolina?

There are approximately 424,000 children in the foster care system across the United States “on any given day”, according to the non-profit child protection group Children’s Rights.

“Children remain in state care for more than a year and a half” on average, according to the group, “and the average age of children entering care is 8 years old.”

Tens of thousands of these children are waiting to be adopted, the group adds.

In North Carolina alone, more than 15,000 children were in foster care in 2021, according to latest data available of child welfare group The Annie E. Casey Foundation.

How to Become an Adoptive Parent in NC

“In North Carolina, a single person or a married couple can be an adoptive family”, says the State Division of Social Services. “You must be 18 to adopt and 21 to adopt. You don’t need to own a home or have a certain income to be a foster or adoptive parent.

You must obtain a license to be a foster parent in North Carolina and must complete several steps to obtain a license.

First, the state’s Division of Social Services advises you to watch the state’s orientation video at ncswlearn.org/presenter/Foster_Parent_Orientation/story.html.

You then need to find “an agency, local agency (Department of Social Services) or private foster care agency” to contact and assist with their orientation. In the county of Mecklenburgyou can call 704-336-5437 for more information about the groups you can work with.

After the orientations are completed, you will be required to complete a training course and home study. If you pass them, your application will be submitted for approval to the State Division of Social Services.

Once cleared, the state explains, you will be considered for “foster care placements based on the needs of the children and your family’s parenting abilities and preferences.”

You will need to get a new license every two years if you want to stay in foster care.

What about adoption?

The adoption process in North Carolina is somewhat similar to the process of becoming an adoptive parent.

First you need to find “an agency, local DSS, or private adoption agency” to work with. In Mecklenburg County, you can again call 704-336-5437 for more information about groups you can work with.

You will then need to go through orientation, training, and home study. Home study for adoption is different from home study for placement, notes the state Division of Social Services.

And some adoption agencies may have additional requirements.

Once approved, you can register with a national and national database of children for adoption: adoptuskids.org and North Carolina children. You will then have the opportunity to apply for the adoption of a child that you find in the database or that you are already adopting.

This story was originally published July 20, 2022 06:00.

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Mary Ramsey is a duty reporter for The Charlotte Observer. Originally from the Carolinas, she studied journalism at the University of South Carolina and has also worked in Phoenix, Arizona and Louisville, Kentucky.

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