Local News

Foster Parents Give Children More Than Just A Place To Call Home

Posted May 28, 2001 3:47 a.m. EDT

— There are more than 11,000 children in foster care in North Carolina, but only 4,500 families to give them homes. Social service workers in the state are scrambling to find places for all the children to live, and are asking you to consider becoming a foster parent.

When Liala Edwards entered foster care at the age of 13, she she was scared. Then she met Maria Noel.

"I love Maria a whole lot and I really appreciate everything she's done for me. She's pretty much changed my life," says Liala.

"I always wanted to do something to help kids," says Noel. Over the past decade, Noel, who has three children of her own, has also been a parent to more than 20 foster children.

"Every child is special and I have something for every child that I meet," she says. "

There is a desperate need for more families.

In North Carolina, the number of children needing foster care is more than double the number of families willing to take them in.

Social workers say there are many misconceptions about who qualifies to be a foster parent.

"You don't have to have a college education. You don't have to be making $50,000 or $100,000 a year. You don't have to own your own home," says Jennifer Montsinger, of the Orange County Division of Social Services.

Another misconception is that foster parents must be married. Maria Noel is a single parent.

Liala is now in college studying to be a social worker. She hopes to give back a little of what she received.

"In foster care you get sad," says Liala. "You always ask yourself why? Then you realize that you've got a blessing [because] what would you do if you weren't in foster care? Where would you end up?"

Since 1987, there has been a 90 percent increase in the number of children needing foster care. That translates into about a half-million children nationwide. There are less than 150,000 families willing to open their homes and their hearts to these children.

To be a foster parent you must be between the ages of 21 and 65. You must have enough sleeping space for the child and enough money to meet their basic needs.

For more information on becoming a foster parent, call theN.C. Kids Foster Care & Adoption Networkat1-877-625-4371.