'Love and stability.' Growing need for foster care families in North Carolina during summer months

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Wednesday, June 7, 2023
Need for Foster Care Families in Durham County Increases
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According to a national count of foster homes and families, there's been a 23 percent decline in licensed foster homes in North Carolina.

"Ultimately what they need is love and stability."

Jessica Lisane showed us some of the activities and exercises she works through with her 17-year-old foster child.

"This is something that helps them to talk through and identify what those emotions really are," shared Lisane.

The 36-year-old foster mom from Durham always knew she wanted to share her heart and home with children in need but didn't expect to as soon as she did.

"Being a foster parent is something that I've always wanted to do. I thought I'd start a family first and then start fostering, but I did it in the reverse."

Statewide there is a need for more foster parents like Lisane. According to a national count of foster homes and families, there's been a 23 percent decline in licensed foster homes in North Carolina. If we look closer at Durham and Wake Counties the numbers also show a steep decline.

In Wake County pre-pandemic in 2019 there were 200 foster families. Today that number is 90. In Durham County, there are 77 foster families, which is not enough for the 297 children in foster care.

Lisane said she understands the hesitancy for some but believes it's worth it.

"There's some uncertainty with that. You'd never know if the child that you're getting will be here with you for three weeks, three months, or three years. I think for me, what I looked at is that I'm providing a stable home for that child for whatever length of time that they need to be here with me," Lisane tells ABC11.

Deborah Cousin is the Foster Care Recruiter for the Durham County Department of Social Services. She said the need for foster families increases during this time of the year.

"It can change from month to month during the summer months, it may increase during the holidays when school's out the need for a resource parent or foster parent definitely increases," she explained.

"Sometimes you are in the home and there may be things going on, that we may not know about right away."

That's why Cousin is actively recruiting foster families in Durham.

"We give you the demographics of youth in care to let you know upfront before you take any type of training. In order to become a foster parent, you have to take 30 hours of training. That training goes over the trauma that children have gone through just by being removed from their parents. We want people to know becoming a foster parent is a temporary living situation. It is not a permanent situation."

Cousin said the goal is to keep children in Durham, "If you think if we remove the children from their birth home, now we're going to remove them from their school system, their community, their favorite coach, their favorite teacher. So that's why we're looking for resource parents right in our area."

Cousin also explained there is also a need for more foster families of color "297, children in care 227 are African American.

"Durham County does not discriminate we take in anyone interested in providing a safe and loving home. But we also do targeted recruitment. We look at the demographics of youth and care."

It's something Lisane understands.

"Of the 77 foster families in Durham County 19 are black. In Wake County, that number is 15. "The kids are already losing so much. So they're losing being at home with mom, dad, grandma, aunts, uncles, cousins, and other family members. And so one of the things you don't want them to lose their identity," Lisane said.

"Being able to be placed with someone that looks like you and has goals that are similar to yours and a background similar to yours, it helps in the process of bonding with the child. Ultimately what they need is love and stability."

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