I’m a foster parent moving to NC. How do I foster in North Carolina?
A Reader Asks . . .

I am foster parent in another state and I’m moving to NC. How do I foster in North Carolina?

The licensing assessment and approval process differs in each state. The foster home requirements in each state are governed by standards set in accordance with the laws of that state. Therefore, it is not possible to transfer a foster home license from another state to North Carolina.

However, it is possible that North Carolina agencies could approve a family licensed in another state to receive credit hours for some of their more recent trainings. If you have completed TIPS-MAPP (Trauma Informed Partnering for Safety and Permanence-Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting) training or an equivalent pre-service training in another state within 24 months, it is possible a North Carolina child-placing agency may assess and give you credit for the training being completed. The decision to accept credit hours is at the discretion of each agency.

Each child-placing agency in North Carolina must follow state guidelines, but may vary in the steps, additional requirements, and procedures they use within their agency to meet those guidelines. In an effort to help families through this process, we are providing you with specific steps to get you started.

Steps to Become a NC Foster Parent
  1. Choose an agency to work with. This may be a county department of social services (DSS) or a private child-placing agency. Links to both types of agencies can be found later in this article. Whatever type of agency you choose, be sure to share during your initial inquiries that you are already licensed or have been licensed in another state. Ask questions about how that might affect with your licensure process in North Carolina.
  2. Attend orientation at your chosen agency.
  3. Complete NC’s short online orientation for prospective foster parents (http://ncswlearn.org/foster)
  4. Complete TIPS-MAPP or an approved pre-service course at your agency.
  5. Working with your agency, complete a Mutual Home Assessment for foster home licensing. (Note: this is not the same as an adoption home study.)
  6. Your agency will submit an application for foster home licensure on your behalf to the NC Division of Social Services.

The following links provide additional information about the foster home licensing process in North Carolina:

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When people learn I am a foster parent they ask how they can help children in North Carolina through foster care and adoption. What should I tell them? Where should I direct them?

Great question! Foster and adoptive parents are the absolute best recruiters of new foster and adoptive parents.

First, feel free to share your story and the path that brought you to being a foster or adoptive parent, including the agencies you have worked with.

Prospective parents really want to talk to real foster parents, not social workers!

Be realistic but positive when recruiting new families. Share positive stories about the children you have loved and cared for, highlighting the significant need for families who can love children unconditionally. Mention the particular need in North Carolina right now for families for teens and for children with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.

You can also help dispel myths. For example, make it clear you do not have to be married or own your own home to foster and adopt. There is no age limit once you are 21 years old. Families can say “no” to a placement that is not a good fit.

If a family is interested, their first step should be to call an agency or attend a local orientation. Most agencies hold regular orientation meetings where families can meet staff and learn about next steps and requirements.

Making this first contact is a big step. Many families think about fostering or adopting for years before acting. You can provide support by offering to attend orientation with the family. Or, even better, offer to help your agency’s orientation: talk about your experience, serve coffee, or just answer questions after the meeting. Prospective parents really want to talk to real foster parents, not social workers!

The NC Kids program is a key resource for families interested in adoption. It provides basic information about becoming a foster and adoptive parent. NC Kids can be found online (www.adoptnckids.org) and by phone (877-NCKIDS-1).

There is also a short, self-paced orientation online at http://ncswlearn.org/foster. It explains foster care, describes the children in need of families, and tells you how to take the next step to becoming a licensed foster parent in our state.

We all have a responsibility to recruit new foster and adoptive families, sharing the need throughout our communities. Foster and adoptive parents are the best possible recruiters and we are so grateful for your ongoing help caring for children in foster care!

Response by the NC Division of Social Services. If you have a question about foster care or adoption in North Carolina you’d like answered in “A Reader Asks,” send it to us using the contact form here.