Therapeutic Foster Care is a temporary living arrangement for abused, neglected, and dependent children who need a safe place to live when their parents or another relative cannot take care of them. Often their families face issues such as illness, alcohol or drug addiction, or homelessness.
When the Department of Social Services ( DSS) believes a child is not safe, and a judge agrees, DSS takes custody of that child and finds a foster home for him or her. Length of stay in foster care varies from a few days to much longer. Foster families are recruited, trained, and licensed to care for abused and neglected children temporarily, while their parents work with social work professionals to resolve their family issues. Relatives may be licensed as foster parents. The foster family, DSS and the birth family work together to return children to their own homes as quickly as possible. In cases where the child becomes free for adoption, foster parents may be considered as adoptive parents. Thousands of children in North Carolina enter the foster care system each year, and range in age from infants to 18 years old. All foster children have unique backgrounds, experiences, personalities, strengths and needs. Some children in foster care require extensive care for physical or emotional handicaps and disabilities.
Some also require help with undisciplined and delinquent behaviors. Most foster children do not have a strong sense of belonging or self-worth. Many have been victims of physical or sexual abuse. All children who are in foster care require special care, support and nurturing.