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'Every child deserves love:' 11,000 children in NC's foster care system

Posted November 18, 2018 4:10 p.m. EST
Updated November 20, 2018 9:36 a.m. EST

The Children's Home Society of North Carolina works with communities to figure out how to meet the needs of the 11,000 children currently in the foster care system in the state. (Yastremska/Big Stock Photo)

This article was written for our sponsor, Children's Home Society of North Carolina.

Growing up as the daughter of a single mother who is a social worker, Deborah Artis learned early on about the importance a strong community can have on a child’s life.

Now a social worker herself, Artis works for the Children's Home Society of North Carolina. The agency partners with the Departments of Social Services in the state and community partners to figure out how to meet the needs of the more than 11,000 children currently in the foster care system in the state.

"Until each child is placed, it's all of our issue," Artis said, referring to the high number of children in need throughout the state. "There's so much work to be done holistically. All the agencies in the state come together to meet the needs of these children, and with everyone at the table, we're better able to do that."

It seems like a daunting task, but it is one that Artis and others at CHS (and agencies like it) have been working on diligently over the years.

As a statewide agency, CHS works with each of the 100 individual​ Departments of Social Services in North Carolina on an array of services, starting with preventative care and education for families and professionals.

Ideally, CHS works to prevent children from having to enter the foster care system in the first place and if a child does have to enter the system, CHS works to ensure each child's individual needs are met and supports the right of every child to a permanent family.

While adoption may not be for everyone, everybody can make a difference in the life of a child. Whether that difference is made by supporting an agency like CHS through donations, by supporting a child in need with clothing or school supplies, or by emotionally supporting someone who is going through the adoption process, each individual effort has an impact on the greater community.

"I always tell people, if you have an interest in bringing a child into your home, pursue it," Artis said. "If it is your dream to parent, it is the dream of a child to be parented. Start or continue the search – it may work out differently than you initially thought, but it will work out."

With over two decades in social work, Artis has seen dramatic change in the adoption process as it has grown across the state. But North Carolina needs more families to open their hearts and homes to these children in need, especially those willing and able to take in sibling groups.

"You see families on a daily basis who come with big hearts wanting to make a difference in the life of a child, and that is their main purpose," Artis explained.

Children need to see that their communities have their best interests at the forefront. And while it's not always a smooth road – after all, many of these children have dealt with tremendous amounts of loss and trauma – it's the commitment level that adoptive families offer that is making the difference in the lives of so many children.

"You have to sometimes get through the not so good times and realize that on the other side, it’s going to be different. You need to make the commitment for that child to be there no matter what," Artis emphasized.

Eleven thousand children in need in North Carolina is a daunting figure to consider, but by taking it one day at a time and one child at a time, a powerful difference can be made.

"Every child deserves love, and so many individuals have that love to give," Artis explained. "We just need to connect them."

This article was written for our sponsor, Children's Home Society of North Carolina.