N.C. Foster and Adoption System in Trouble
Posted April 10, 1997
RALEIGH — North Carolina's foster care and adoption systems are in serious trouble according to a coalition of state legislators who want new laws passed before the situation gets worse.
Children's advocates say there just are not enough foster care and adoption workers to meet growing needs. Some legislators say it's a budget cutting trend during the last several sessions that's to blame for the system's deterioration. And, some lawmakers say it would be better to spend money now to prevent problems rather than spend more later to fix them.
Sometimes the system works, as in the case of 17-month-old Baily Bilger. She spent a few months in the state foster care system, then became a legal member of the Bilger family. Bill Bilger says he and his wife Bonnie have brought 20 children into their home over the past 10 years.
Unfortunately, there aren't enough families like the Bilgers to go around. In North Carolina, there are 12,000 children looking for permanent homes. Representative Jeanne Lucas, D-Durham County, says the system needs help.
Some legislators say years of state belt-tightening has squeezed precious funding out of state foster care and adoption programs. A new legislative package is being introduced in the General Assembly that would increase the number of foster care and adoption workers and set up programs to reduce the number of children in the system.
Still, according to Bonnie Bilger, it all comes back to the families who are willing to help.
The foster care adoption funds bill has been introduced in the Senate and is being worked on in the House. Proponents have spelled out exactly what they're looking for, if the General Assembly is ready to pay for it.