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NCSU group pushing to help NC revamp foster care system

Posted June 29
Updated June 30

— A North Carolina State University group is pushing to revamp the state's child welfare system.

The goal is to give families and young on the receiving end of the system a voice in the policies that run it.

In 2015, the federal government said the state's child welfare program missed the mark on all but one of 21 federal standards.

Former foster child Marcella Middleton says the problem comes down to the decision makers.

"They make decisions, and they are missing the key people that need to be there," Middleton said.

Middleton said she believes those key opinions belong to the children and families who receive welfare support so that they can share what works and what doesn't.

Since she aged out of foster care, Middleton has joined an N.C. State group aimed at giving people in the system a voice.

Kara Allen-Eckard is leading the program.

"You have a lot of people involved in youth's lives who are maybe involved for six months to two years making decisions for children that impact their life," Allen-Eckard said. "So, we are really thinking about how we can carefully, respectfully and safely include that youth opinion."

Earlier this year, the North Carolina's Department of Health and Human Services took notice of their work. Now, the state has agreed to fund an advisory council filled with welfare recipients who will have a voice on all future state policies.

“It’s really important that ask those questions, and we have those perspectives at the table so we can really figure out how to fine tune programs and services," Allen-Eckard said.

The state hopes to have an advisory council in place by 2019. That group will be co-chaired by representatives from the Division of Social Services.

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