Hundreds of children in foster care in Mecklenburg, Gaston counties, far fewer foster homes
Because of the shortage of homes, many children are being moved outside of their home counties.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Hundreds of children are in foster care in Mecklenburg and Gaston counties right now, far more than the amount of available foster homes.
It’s not only putting stress on the system, but on the children who need homes.
Peter Mutabazi is one person who is speaking out about the problem.
“Someone fostered me,” Mutabazi said. “Someone really saw me as a little kid who had nowhere to go, who had no hope, and he said I see potential in this little kid.”
Inspired by his experience, he has been a foster parent for nearly five years now.
“If I can do it as a single man, I mean anyone can do it,” Mutabazi said. “Our kids, what they’re looking for is someone to love on them.”
“It’s our responsibility,” he said. “You know, it’s our community that we ought to truly reach out to our kids, and be there for kids.”
Unfortunately, people like Mutabazi are in short supply.
Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services’ Youth and Family Services has 98 licensed foster homes, and about 500 children in foster care in any given month.
With such a great need and not enough homes, DSS said sometimes kids must be moved to homes outside Mecklenburg County.
“It’s sad to me and very concerning that we just do not have enough homes here,” Gaston County DHSS Licensing and Recruitment social worker Candice Williams said.
According to Williams, Gaston County is facing an issue similar.
Currently, Gaston County Social Services has 402 children placed in foster care. There are 50 Family Foster homes licensed throughout the county.
The majority of the children are placed in homes outside of Gaston County, because there are just not enough foster homes in the county.
“When they’re placed out of their homes, this is really taking them outside of their normal situation, their normal routines, their normal environment,” Williams said.
Seven Homes, an adoption and foster care agency based in Greensboro, noted that this has been an ongoing problem.
“You’d be surprised right now how many counties are having to sleep kids at their office,” Seven Homes Executive Director Kenneth Maxwell said. “I know a couple of counties that unfortunately are having to sleep kids at the county jail.”
Mecklenburg County DSS is planning to launch a kinship and foster parent recruitment campaign in the next several months.
If you or someone you know are interested in opening your home to children in foster care, contact Youth and Family Services at 704-336-5437. You can also find information here.
You can find more information about fostering in Gaston County on their website.
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