The number of children in foster care continues to grow each year. Currently, more than 12,000 children in North Carolina alone are in the foster care system and each one has their own story. They each have a unique identity, a dream or a wish they want for the future. They each have a family and a place they call home. But they also each have a need for support, love, and community during this time in their life. They need us — all of us.
A Community of Support
We have a unique opportunity for support. While many of our relationships are strong and allow us to directly impact the children and families we serve, our Fostering Communities Initiative puts us at the forefront of partnering to support our foster families and create awareness in communities. Not all families are equipped to become foster parents but they can give back and support those who are by mowing their lawn, cooking dinner, or offering a salon service. Crossnore’s holistic approach to wrapping communities and foster parents with support demonstrates our commitment to grow healthy futures for children and families by providing a Christian sanctuary of hope and healing.
Foster Home Expansion
Over the next two years, as Crossnore grows and expands its net to other counties within western North Carolina, we would like to increase our foster parent pool by at least 30%. Developing a comprehensive recruitment and retention plan to guide us through this phase is essential and to help us focus on recruiting the families needed for the individual needs of each child we serve.
Crossnore will focus on expanding our Latinx and African American foster families, therapeutic foster families and families who can care for older youth, and families who can support sibling groups and youth within the LGBTQ community. Creating community awareness and momentum in licensing foster homes for therapeutic foster children, large sibling groups and older youth is challenging. We recognize foster families can sometimes have a desired child in mind so having visualizations and interactive training/role modeling can assist with breaking down myths and misconceptions, allowing families to think outside the box when becoming licensed and/or accepting placements.
We use several recruitment strategies to promote fostering.
Referral Incentive: We know that many of our foster parents come to us through word of mouth based on a friend or family’s connection. We provide a foster parent finder’s fee to our existing foster parents who refer other families to become family or therapeutic foster families.
“Fosterware” Parties: Oftentimes families need to hear personal experiences before they make the leap to commit to going through foster parent training. We plan to support foster parents hosting “fosterware” parties this year, both virtually and in person, so they can share their experiences, answer questions, and spread the word to others.
Sharing Sessions: Our staff are another huge advocacy voice for fostering. Agency wide sharing sessions related to the ways that staff can assist with recruitment and overall networking with community organizations is beneficial and simultaneously builds camaraderie and increases staff morale.
DSS Partnerships: Because of the growing demand for foster families and the continued shortage of placements, we know that finding a placement for a specific child with unique challenges can be difficult. We work closely with local counties to strategize on how to best recruit for more challenging placements because we can work better together.
Partnering with local organizations: Through our sharing sessions, our fostering communities initiative, and our work with current foster parents, we hope to continue to connect and build relationships with churches and business within our Latinx and African American communities as well as other organizations where our families live. This will be beneficial as we need to increase our foster parent pool to include more people of color to mirror the children coming into foster care.
Foster Care Friday’s posts: We are working on Foster Care Friday postings to share more about the work we are doing. These posts will help promote the accomplishments of our foster parents, create awareness of needs, and debunk myths. Through a call to action – social media campaign – we will also showcase a variety of foster care scenarios.
We believe each of these strategies will play an important part in expanding our foster parent community and helping to ensure that our families are able and ready to accept the children coming into foster care.
Working in Partnership
Crossnore’s goal is to always work in partnership with families and stay connected to the needs of the community as we serve each child’s individual needs. We need you, and are extremely grateful for the churches and organizations who have supported us over the years, particularly during the pandemic. We are always looking for more individuals and groups to join us in supporting our youth.
If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, please visit www.crossnore.org/foster-care-licensing.
If you would like to learn more about how you can support your local Crossnore foster families, or your business or organization is interested in supporting our foster care program, please contact Angela Bollo, Fostering Communities Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.