Over the next year, the Eastern Regional Center will embark on a new campaign to recruit 50 new foster parents and families to keep up with an increasing demand to place children in new homes.
“Even with the number of foster parents we have, they’re not always in a situation where they can take a child,” said Eastern Regional Director Darryl Blevins. “There is no schedule for when we’re going to remove a child. There’s always a need for more foster parents because of the uncertainty of when we would need them. We always want to be prepared and make sure our capacity is at a certain level and at this point, we are really not at that level.”
The effort to recruit more foster families is not county-wide. Although Blevins estimates Raleigh has more foster children than eastern Wake, there is not as much of a shortage of families in the immediate vicinity of where children are.
Currently, Blevins said the eastern area of the county has 20 foster families to work with. Across the county, it’s about 250 to 260 families.
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Blevins said at any given time, the regional center in Zebulon manages 620-650 children in foster care. At the end of the new campaign, officially kicking off on May 8, he said he hopes to have 50 more foster families, preferably from eastern Wake County, to work with.
“When we do have to remove a child from the home, we try to keep them in the same environment,” he said of the importance of finding parents in the area.
Right now, it is not uncommon for a child to be sent to another part of the county and in some cases, some may have to be placed outside of Wake County, Blevins said.
In the east, most placements are temporary until legal proceedings wrap up. In some cases, the placement is more permanent and in those cases, many families end up adopting their foster child, Blevins said.
There are financial incentives available to foster families, but it’s also a demanding role that requires training and patience.
According to Wake County’s Human Services website, there are several meetings and screenings potential foster parents must go through before being able to accept children. The website also cautions that potential fosters should have the extra time and patience to help children adjust to their new homes.
Blevins said fostering is a largely positive experience, but it is not always picture-perfect.
“Some of the kids we have to place ... have been through very traumatic experiences and they’re dealing with that and that can be testy at times,” he said.
Blevins and a group of foster parents, Wake County officials and foster children will present a more thorough look at what it means to be a foster family on May 8 at 6 p.m. at the Eastern Regional Center.