ONSLOW COUNTY, N.C. (WNCT) — North Carolina’s foster care system is in crisis.
Statewide, there’s a shortage of foster homes able to take care of children and many more children being placed in the foster care system.
“We have had an issue with having enough foster parents,” said Heidi Baur, director of Onslow County Social Services. “And we do have more foster children than we’ve ever had. Those problems are linked to mental illness and the opioid crisis.”
The shortage means that children are having to go out of the area in order to be cared for.
Social worker Kristy Hill said this is hard for the children who have already been through a lot.
“When they can ride around town,” said Hill, “and see that this is my same school or this is the park that I’m used to playing at, those things help the child at least be more comfortable with what’s going on. We want to cause less traumatic experience as possible.”
When children are taken away from home to be cared for, reunification with their families becomes much more difficult.
Onslow County is calling on families that might be able to take care of these children to step up and help.
“These kids here, our main goal is to try to keep them in Onslow County around familiar areas,” said Hill. “So if they could open up their hearts and minds about assisting and meeting these children’s needs, we would greatly appreciate it.”
The Onslow County Consolidated Health and Human Services Building will be hosting a foster care class at the end of February.
For more information on how to get involved with foster care in Onslow County, go to NCDHHS.gov or call (910) 455-4145.