11,000 children in NC living in foster care
Posted December 18, 2015 5:02 p.m. EST
Updated December 18, 2015 6:04 p.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — About 11,000 children in North Carolina live in foster care. As the population grows, so does the need for foster parents who can provide loving and stable homes.
It's up to the Department of Social Services in each county to find the right foster parents for each child, but it gets help from nonprofit agencies.
The Methodist Home for Children in Raleigh, for example, says it sees 80 to 90 children a day and needs more people to help.
"We need to see more families that would like to provide kids the stabilization to get back to permanence and back to their families," said Erica Burgess, the home's director of foster care and adoption. The number of kids who need foster care is increasing, she said. "So we need more families that are willing and open to working with kids for a short period of time to get them back to their birth family.”
Michael and Sylvia Basham are one of those families. They already had kids – two teenagers who would soon leave home and a 20-something who had already left. Their empty nest was within grasp. But the couple decided to become foster parents.
“Life was pretty easy. We had the Staples ‘easy’ button. This is good. We’re almost done. But that wasn’t what we were called to do,” Sylvia Basham said. “Our faith definitely came into play. It was almost like God said with our house, either fill it up or sell it. It’s kind of too big for just the few of you.”
Michael said the role of a foster parent doesn't just involve giving.
"It's not just for what we can give them, but we also get a lot of love and joy," he said.
But before that love and joy, potential foster parents need patience and skills to work with kids from troubled backgrounds.
Foster parents are compensated, and they must be licensed and undergo 30 hours of training.
"Most of our calls come from the Department of Social Services," said Claudia Wiggins, and intake specialist for the Methodist Homes. "We get calls also from mental health agencies that are seeking placement for kids who are having some behavioral issues and concerns in a home setting."
In the summer of 2014, two sisters moved in with the Bashams. Then, that November, a twin brother. WRAL News cannot give their names, show their faces or say much about their past, but one of the girl’s – age 11 – said she feels loved by the Bashams.
“I really haven’t had a family love me like they have,” she said, adding that she calls them mom and dad because the Bashams are adopting the siblings.
“All I can say is when I read the overview of those three kids, I knew those were mine,” Michael Basham said.
The Methodist Home for Children is a child-placement agency for social services in several counties. Some, like the Bashams, end up adopting their foster kids. Others, like Jeffie Abernathy, provide them a safe place to go for a time. She, too, already had kids.
“I need to have a purpose. We all have a purpose," she said. "I feel if I can give back to these children, I can make a difference in maybe a child’s life."