Foster parents needed in Beaufort County

Published 4:29 pm Wednesday, March 13, 2024

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In Beaufort County, the foster care system is in need of compassionate individuals willing to open their homes and hearts to children in need. With an ongoing count of 127 children in foster care, plus an additional three young adults between the ages of 18 to 21, the community’s call for action has never been louder.

“We’ve consistently had around 130 kids in our care since COVID hit,” shared Karen Chrisman, the Children’s Services Supervisor at Beaufort County Social Services. “Currently, we’re slightly below that number, but the need for foster homes is as critical as ever.”

According to Chrisman, a significant challenge is the shortage of licensed foster homes.

“We only have 20 licensed foster parents right now,” stated Chrisman, highlighting the critical gap between available homes and the children in need.

This scarcity forces many children to be placed in homes far from their community, sometimes as distant as Charlotte or South Carolina, disrupting their ability to maintain connections with their roots and complicating the logistics of family visits.

The primary reasons children enter foster care in Beaufort County, as Chrisman noted, are substance abuse and domestic violence. These issues underscore the complexity of the foster care landscape and the importance of addressing the root causes of family instability.

However, the objective remains clear: reunification with the biological family is the primary goal, with a year to permanency as the guideline.

“The plan is going to be reunification,” explained Chrisman, stressing the importance of keeping children connected to their families and communities as much as possible.

For those considering foster parenting, the county offers a “Models Approach to Partnership and Parenting” training. This trauma-informed course spans 10 weeks, covering everything from the reasons children come into care to effective behavior management strategies and the intricacies of the court process.

Chrisman emphasized the importance of prospective foster parents understanding the unique needs and behaviors of children who have experienced abuse or neglect.

Misty Taylor, who both teaches the foster parenting course and has firsthand experience as a foster and adoptive parent, shared her perspective on what makes a successful foster parent: open-mindedness and a willingness to support not just the child, but their entire family.

“Fostering is never easy… but it’s absolutely one of the best and the most positive things that can really make a difference in our world,” noted Taylor, reflecting on her journey which led to the adoption of five children out of the 18 she fostered.

For those considering this rewarding challenge, the agency offers the training twice a year, in March and September.

“We don’t need perfect people,” urged Taylor. “We need people that are willing to go on this journey with families that need help.”

Prospective foster parents must be at least 21 years old, have a stable income not reliant on foster care stipends and maintain reliable transportation, alongside fulfilling other criteria including background checks, housing requirements and the flexibility to meet a foster child’s needs. Interested individuals can learn more about becoming a foster parent by contacting Chrisman at the Department of Social Services at (252) 940-6030.