Nazareth Connection to offer foster parenting classes

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 21, 2018

Staff report

SALISBURY — Nazareth Child & Family Connection will soon offer classes aimed at addressing the growing need for foster parents.

From 2010 to 2017, the number of children in foster care in North Carolina increased, while the number of licensed foster homes in the state steadily declined, according to the North Carolina Division of Social Services and Children’s Resource Program.

That has resulted in many children being placed out of state, away from family and other support systems.

“There is an overwhelming need for foster parents in our region,” said Vernon Walters, president and CEO of Nazareth Child & Family Connection. “Foster parenting is difficult. All parenting is, but in the end, the rewards are tremendous. Opening your home and family to a child without home and family is a tremendous act of love and selflessness.”

Nazareth is offering foster parenting classes beginning Sept. 5 and running for 10 weeks at Nazareth’s offices, 165 Mahaley Ave.

The classes are designed to inform participants about the child welfare system and the role of foster parents.

The classes also will focus on understanding trauma and how to better serve families who have experienced trauma.

Anyone who completes the classes and the licensing process will become licensed North Carolina foster parents.

An information session for the classes will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 1, also at the Mahaley Avenue office. Anyone interested in attending the information session can sign up at

In July 2017, there were 11,204 children in foster care in North Carolina, up from 9,167 in 2010. The number of children in need has outgrown the number of homes available. In 2017, there were fewer than 7,000 homes to serve more than 11,000 children.

The increase in need stems in part from the opioid crisis, with addicted parents unable to take care of their children. The percentage of Rowan County children forced into foster care as a result of parental drug abuse reached 39 percent in 2016-17, according to the Rowan County Department of Social Services.

Since fiscal year 2013, a total of 970 Rowan children (some more than once) were  involved in Child Protective Services assessment decisions in which a contributory factor was drug abuse, Social Services recently reported.

Each year in North Carolina, almost 12,000 children and teenagers are placed in homes awaiting foster parents. In Rowan County, more than 100 children are now in foster care

Nazareth Child & Family Connection typically has about 50 youths and teenagers in its residential program and a dozen in foster care.

“Becoming a North Carolina foster parent will help keep our children home,” said Shawn Squirewell, director of foster care services at Nazareth Child & Family Connection. “Foster parents who can serve sibling groups and teenagers are in high demand. Those who foster can potentially adopt a child through the foster-care system. Please help be a part of the solution to this problem.”