New Hanover Co. looks for foster families as greater percentage of kids enter the system due to opioid crisis

New Hanover Co. looks for foster families as greater percentage of kids enter the system due to opioid crisis

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - The nationwide opioid epidemic is now reflected in the number of children in the custody of the foster care system in New Hanover County.

The most recent data from the DSS shows fewer children needed foster care in 2018 from the previous year, but a greater percentage of them are connected to the opioid crisis.

Data provided by the Department of Social Services shows 23.4% of children who needed foster care in 2017-2018 came from families with opioid-related substance abuse issues.
Data provided by the Department of Social Services shows 23.4% of children who needed foster care in 2017-2018 came from families with opioid-related substance abuse issues. (Source: New Hanover County Government)

Almost half of them (46.8 percent) are connected to general substance abuse issues.

In New Hanover County, Alice Moore says the need for new foster families is ever present.

“There’s always a need for more, we lose foster families at about the same rate we gain them," Moore said. "They may move away, they may adopt, they may have job or lifestyle changes, so we do continuous monthly recruitment for more families.”

According to state guidelines, foster parents must:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Have a stable home and income
  • Maintain a drug free environment
  • Be willing to be finger printed and have a criminal records check
  • Complete all required training and be licensed by the state of North Carolina

“You go into it and you kind of want to save the world, right, but you really need to be honest with yourself and your individual situation with you and your family and know what you’re willing and can do and what you’re not willing and maybe you shouldn’t do, and it’s okay because it’s not about trying to do everything, it’s really about trying to figure out what you can do and what needs you can fill to help kids out,” said foster parent Bud Warner.

Warner and his wife have served as foster parents to more than a dozen children over the past five years. He encourages anyone interested in volunteering to do so with realistic expectations for what the experience will be like.

Anyone interested in learning more can reach out to Alice Moore directly at 910-798-3566 or at amoore@nhcgov.com.

Copyright 2019 WECT. All rights reserved.