Polk DSS had 57 children in foster care for FY 2015-2016

Published 10:00 pm Friday, August 12, 2016

As of June 30, 2016, the Polk County Department of Social Services (DSS) had 57 children in state custody for fiscal year 2015-2016. 

For the current calendar year, beginning Jan. 1, 2016, DSS has averaged 37 children per month in state care.

There are currently only 10 licensed foster homes in Polk County. As of this week 17 children are placed within Polk County foster homes and 22 children are placed outside of Polk County because of the lack of foster homes. Some of Polk’s foster children have to stay three to four hours away.

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Polk County residents have the opportunity to become foster parents with several levels of parenting needed.

Full-time foster parents can keep children full-time and may or may not wish to eventually adopt those children.

Respite only parents may have a child for a week until a family is found or may have the same child one weekend per month.

Babysitter foster parents are also needed to care for sick children while parents are at work, to take the child to the doctor or for regular babysitting needs.

Other ways to help the county’s foster care program is to donate items, to donate time or to sponsor a child.

Needed items for the program include underwear, socks, pull-ups, coats, clothing, suitcases, hygiene products, crafts and gift cards.

The public can also host a recruitment party, teach a training class, donate a service, write about your experience with foster care and ask a foster care speaker to speak to a group.

Sponsoring a child is also available for activities, including camps, scouts, sports, prom, graduation and college and transitioning out of foster care.

Support to families can be done through gift cards for dinners out, help with special events, letting your children play with children in foster care and to hire a teen in foster care.

Foster parents interested may also eventually adopt a child in foster care. The cost of adoption through foster care is only the filing fee to the clerk of courts office, which is currently $120, according to DSS.

To learn more about adopting children from foster care or to get additional information regarding children waiting to be adopted in the state of North Carolina, visit www.adopnckids.org.

For local information about becoming a foster parent in Polk County or ways to assist the foster care program, contact Ruth Richardson at the Polk County DSS at 828-894-6621.

Requirements to become a foster parent include: 

• Must possess personal qualities that will allow you to work well with the agency and any children placed with you

• All members of the family must agree in the decision to foster

• If you are married, the marriage must have been for at least one year

• You must be 21 years or older to become a foster parent.

• Physical exams for all household members are required every two years

• You must have a stable income sufficient for the family’s needs without the monthly payments for being a foster parent

• Foster parents cannot deny the child the opportunity for spiritual development and the right to practice his or her religious beliefs

• Both foster parents may be employed if suitable child care arrangements have been made

• The foster home must be located in an area with access to schools, doctors and churches

• Homes must be of adequate size and structure

• A local fire department official will inspect the home for fire and building safety

• Social services will check into any criminal history

• Every foster parent must complete a 30-hour training course and 10 hours annually

• The foster parents, if appropriate, will be considered for adoptive parents if the child in the home becomes available for adoption