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Seven families complete Nazareth Child & Family Connection’s foster parenting classes

ROCKWELL — Seven families graduated from Nazareth Child & Family Connection’s fall foster parenting classes last week, completing the 10-week program that is the first step to gaining certification to become foster parents.

The group completed classroom training in November, which is National Adoption Awareness Month to raise awareness of adoption issues with a focus on the adoption of children in foster care.

“This is a group of remarkable families generously giving of their time to make life better for youngsters who desperately need the love and structure of a family,” said Vernon Walters, president and CEO of Nazareth Child & Family Connection. “It is life changing for the seven families and for the many children they will impact.”

While this group has completed fostering classes, a couple of steps remain before the become eligible to foster children and perhaps eventually adopt through Nazareth’s foster-to-adopt program. The graduates will have final consultations with Nazareth foster care and adoption specialists before their applications are sent to the North Carolina Department of Social Services for approval. The families should be licensed to foster by the beginning of the new year.

The classes are designed to inform participants about the child welfare system and the role of foster parents and to help them develop the skills to become a successful foster/adoptive parent. The classes also focused on understanding trauma and how to better serve families who have experienced it.

The need for foster and adoptive parents is overwhelming. In July 2017, there were 11,204 children in foster care in North Carolina, up from 9,167 in 2010. In Rowan County, there are currently more than 100 children in foster care.

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.

Each year in North Carolina, almost 12,000 children and teenagers are placed in homes awaiting foster parents.

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

Founded in 1906, Nazareth Child & Family Connection providines a safe and nurturing environment for children and families. In addition to residential services for children and the foster care program, Nazareth has outpatient facilities in Salisbury, Lexington and Albemarle serving individuals with mental health, substance abuse and developmental disability needs.

Nazareth also offers transitional living services for young adults; therapeutic residential, individual and group outpatient therapy; psychiatric services; and outpatient substance abuse therapy in Rowan, Davidson and Stanly counties.

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