Foster Home Licensing
The primary goal of foster home licensing is to license homes in Cabarrus County to provide a safe, temporary placement for children to live until they can be returned home or placed in another permanent home if returning to the biological parent is not possible. Children of any age (up to 18 years of age) can be placed in a foster home. Children who turn 18 while in care may remain in a foster home until age 21 provided eligibility criteria are met.
When children are removed from their home by DSS and no relative home is deemed appropriate, they may be placed in a foster home. The licensing social worker will look at the needs of the children and match those needs with the strengths of available foster parents. This is done in order to make a good match between children and foster parents in an effort to avoid a placement disruption.
A foster parent must be a resident of Cabarrus County with not Child Protective Service history or a criminal record.
Minimal eligibility requirements to become a foster parent:
• Your income must be adequate to meet your own family’s needs without benefit of financial assistance (i.e. Medicaid, food stamps, etc.), or the foster care reimbursement payment. Be between the ages of 21 and 65, and have a valid high school diploma or GED.
• There must be adequate space and facilities for a foster child(ren). Foster children must have their own bed, closet space, and drawer space that allows for privacy. There may be no more than five persons under the age of 18 in the home at any one time.
• You must enter into an Agency/Foster Parent Agreement, be available for training, permit visits from the agency staff to your home and furnish references. A ten-week training course is provided one evening per week for three hours. Both partners in the home must attend all thirty hours prior to being licensed.
• Your home must pass fire and safety inspections. You must have working smoke detectors within ten feet of each bedroom door and a five-pound ABC type fire extinguisher which will be your responsibility to purchase.
• Each person in the home must have a medical examination completed consisting of a TB skin test. Documentation is required that foster parents have the skill, stamina, and capacity to care for children.
• Foster parents must be fingerprinted. Criminal checks are done through the local Clerk of Court and through the State Department of Corrections.
• Twenty hours of in-service training is required for each foster parent during a two-year certification, and is provided by the agency.
• Foster parents must complete CPR/first aid, universal precaution, and medication administration training prior to receiving placement of a child.
• If both parents work, an adequate plan for childcare must be approved by the agency.
Sometimes biological parents are unable to meet their child’s basic needs for care, protection, and love. Foster care provides temporary out-of-home care when his own family cannot care for him. Out-of-home care can be in an approved relative’s home, a licensed family foster home, a group home, or a child-caring institution.
Usually, there is not any one reason a child comes into foster care, but a combination of factors may lead to placement, such as:
• Physical abuse or neglect of the child.
• Family stress caused by divorce, separation, alcoholism, mental illness.
• Illness or death of a parent.
• Child’s behavior due to a physical or emotional handicap.
• Parental rights have been terminated and child is waiting for an adoptive placement.
Foster care is intended to be a temporary arrangement and not an end in itself. The primary goal of foster care is to provide a safe, temporary placement for children to live until they can be returned home or until another permanent home can be found. Children of any age (up to age 18) may be placed in foster care. Children who turn 18 while in care may remain in a foster home until age 21 provided eligibility criteria are met.
Once a child is removed from his/her home, the goal is to reunify the child(ren) with the parent(s) as soon as safety can be assured. This is determined by the parents successfully achieving the tasks that are court ordered to provide safety, protection and permanence for their child(ren).
There is a program called LINKS, which is available to children in foster care who are between the ages of 13 and 21. LINKS was developed to help children with life skills and support systems.
When children are ages 13 through 15, the focus is determining the skills children will need to become a young adult and exposing children to opportunities for building the skills they need in order to be successful in life. The emphasis is on planning ahead and identifying resources.
When children are ages 16 through 18, the assessment process continues, but more activities and opportunities are available. Assisting the youth to become self-sufficient young adults becomes the primary focus of the program. Each child is assisted with the development of a people who can assist and support them as young adults. The LINKS program provides financial assistance to enable these young people to participate in special projects, activities, and seminars.
The LINKS program can continue to assist the youth in becoming self-sufficient, between 18-21 years, if the child(ren) were in DSS custody anytime between the ages of 13 and the youth’s 18th birthday. The program focuses on assisting with completion of high school, obtaining a GED, employment, budgeting, family planning, how to set up a household and etc.
Adoption is the method provided by law to establish the legal relationship of a parent and child who are not parent and child by birth. Once the adoption is final, the adoptive parent and child would have the same mutual rights and obligations that exist between children and birth parents. The primary purpose of adoption is to help children whose parents are incapable of assuming or continuing parental responsibilities to become a part of a new family. In order for adoption to occur, the parental rights of the child’s biological parents must terminated by a juvenile court holding jurisdiction or the biological parents must relinquish their parental rights.
Once the child is legally clear, the adoption process can be finalized. The process of finalizing an adoption involves specific time frames as set forth by law and generally takes 90 to 120 days to be completed. Once the adoption is finalized, a new birth certificate is issued for the child.
Placement of the child in an adoptive home will be based on the needs and attachments of the child and on the strengths and needs of the prospective family.