May is National Foster Care Month and a good time to learn ways the community can support children in emergency situations and the families that bring stability in a time of turmoil.
There are more than 300 children and youth currently in the custody of the New Hanover County Department of Social Services. The DSS has around 85 licensed foster homes.
There are several ways residents can help, including donating to the Foster Pantry and the Christmas Fund for children, and becoming a foster parent.
“Basically, the Foster Pantry collects donations,” says Alice Moore, supervisor with the DSS Child Placement Unit. “We have foster parents who get a child placement in the middle of the night. They will call the pantry and say, ‘I need diapers, clothes for a boy size 2T, etc.’ It’s a Wilmington nonprofit, not through Child Protective Services.”
The Foster Pantry website shows ways to become a volunteer and how to donate. Moore says the public can also donate directly to the Foster Children Christmas Fund through DSS.
New Hanover County is always looking for more foster families. A special need is for families willing to take older children or sibling groups.
Licensed social workers conduct the foster parenting classes virtually. The 30-hour course is held two nights a week for five weeks. Prospective foster parents engage in a virtual home visit or pre-screening before attending the fostering classes.
DSS offers fostering classes four times per year. The next class starts in June. Interested people can contact Alice Moore at email@example.com or office 910-798-3566.
Moore says the county’s foster families have continued to meet needs during the pandemic.
“They have taken in kids in the middle of the night and on weekends,” she says. “Foster parents know that social workers don’t always have time during a situation to get details of what a child has been through, but they (foster families) have not let us down. They have stepped up during COVID and done an excellent job.”
There are several ways to support the hundreds of children currently in the custody of the New Hanover County Department of Social Services.