Get to know “The Many Faces of Foster Care”

Published 12:05 am Friday, May 29, 2015

By Jon Hunter

Special to the Post

“Get to Know the Many Faces of Foster Care” is the 2015 theme of National Foster Care Month, which is celebrated each year in May. The theme highlights the diversity of the children, youth, families and professionals involved in child welfare.

Children and teenagers in foster care range in age from birth through 18. Rowan County foster parents and other caregivers serve children from all racial, social and economic backgrounds. Child abuse, neglect and dependency occur in all areas of Rowan County.

Rowan County children and teenagers need and deserve the very best we have to offer in protection, nurture, education, role modeling, in the allotment of our time, and in the generous provision of our love. We salute the Rowan County Department of Social Services foster parents and relative care providers who give these gifts to Rowan County children and teenagers in foster care. The Rowan County Department of Social Services social workers and staff thank our foster parents and relatives for opening your homes and hearts to provide for our children in foster care. You are helping children and families who are experiencing crisis in their lives. Thank you for sharing your family and your home, giving love, encouragement, hope and healing to children and families in need. Most of all, thank you for being a part of our team as you help families who live in Rowan County.

Foster parent Ann and her husband have fostered over 100 children during their 23 years of serving as foster parents. Ann states that she has fostered so long because she sees the need for someone to foster due to the shortage of foster parents. Her most meaningful foster experience is when she sees “a former foster child out in the community in later years, with their parents, and the child appears happy and healthy.” Ann enjoys fostering medically fragile and special needs children. Her most heartbreaking experience was “caring for a little 5-year-old boy that was shaken so badly that he was blinded.” Ann’s advice to those who are considering foster parenting is “to really take it slow, and never, ever forget that your birth children always come first. It has to be a family decision because it takes the whole family to do it.”

National Foster Care Month is a wonderful time to raise awareness and speak out about children’s issues. As a community, we must all join together to make sure that all children get a healthy head start, a fair start, and a safe start in life. Sometimes we have to get out of our own comfort zones so that we can build relationships with children in this community. We must never rest until every child is safe, loved and properly cared for.

Several children and teenagers in foster care live outside Rowan County because there are not enough foster parents in the County. In order to keep birth families close together while working with them to solve their problems and bring the family back together again, we need more Rowan County foster parents. Children develop and succeed better in a family environment.

Foster parent Paula and her husband “see the need in the community and want to help.” Paula states, “We only have one child, we can’t have any more, and we are fostering because we have more love that we need to give.” Paula and her husband became foster parents in January. On the day of this interview, Paula and her family were welcoming a 2-year-old boy into their home. Paula is willing to talk to people about fostering she says, “because there is such a great need for more foster families in Rowan County.”

Foster parent responsibilities: meet the physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual needs of our children; make a commitment to help a child through a difficult time; provide temporary care for children; encourage positive relationships; provide transportation for various appointments; discipline in a positive way; work as part of a team; prepare the child to return home. Foster parenting is a chance to make the world a better place, one child at a time. Being a caregiver for a child in foster care is one of the most rewarding opportunities you will ever volunteer for, but it is one of the most challenging steps you will ever take.

Children and teenagers in foster care: have love to share, special talents, different likes and dislikes; have been abused, neglected or abandoned; have emotional and behavioral problems; are of many different races; may have physical and/or mental disabilities; may have special needs; need a safe place to call home.

Rowan County Department of Social Services invites you to partner with us to provide a safe environment for our children. We encourage families of all ethnic groups to apply to be foster parents. You can become a foster parent whether you are single or married. You must be 21 years of age or older. If you work outside the home, day care will be provided while you are working. You do not have to own your home to foster a child. Foster Parents receive a room and board rate to help cover the cost of taking care of the child or children in their home. People who are willing to complete additional training and provide additional services to teenagers (13 through 18 years of age) will receive a higher room and board rate.

Qualified social workers will train and equip you for this mission. Visit our website at, view a webinar about foster parenting, print the video completion certificate, and bring it to our next Prospective Foster/Adoptive Parent Interest Meeting on Tuesday, July 14 at 5:30 p.m. at Rowan County Department of Social Services, 1813 E. Innes St., Salisbury. Complete a program application, pass a background check, and receive an invitation to attend the 10-week Model Approach to Partnership in Parenting Training Classes for prospective foster and/or adoptive parents.

Family foster care is exciting and challenging. Search your heart. If you desire to help, contact Jon Hunter at 704-216-7914 or .