Foster home licensing in NC during COVID-19

by Jodi Franck •

Our entire world changed drastically and quickly with the emergence of COVID-19 in the United States and North Carolina. Licensing of foster homes had to change and adjust, too. After Governor Cooper declared a state of emergency in March 2020, foster care agencies and the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) began identifying areas of licensing that would be affected by the pandemic. Our top priority was to ensure existing licensed homes could remain licensed so that families would continue to receive financial support and children’s placements would not be disrupted.

Our top priority was to ensure existing homes could remain licensed so placements would not be disrupted.

First, NC DHHS identified areas that were likely to cause issues in relicensing. Fire inspections, medical examinations, and home visits were all concerns, since our standard approach to these would not work while stay-at-home orders were in effect. With its legal counsel, NC DHHS ensured foster homes would be relicensed. Through the Governor’s Executive Orders, areas of concern were addressed and creative solutions implemented. NC DHHS continues to work with supervising agencies to problem solve any remaining issues.

Teamwork is a core value for NC DHHS, and collaboration with foster care agencies and other stakeholders has been vitally important during this time. As a team, we continue to ensure families remain licensed, continue to license new families, and always keep the safety and well-being of our children, youth, and families as our first priority.

Jodi Franck is Foster Home Licensing Manager with the NC Division of Social Services.