BY VONDA HENDERSON with Sandy Sauer and Kelly Riley
Currently, in North Carolina, there are more than 10,000 children in foster care. Within the last five years, there has been a 25-percent increase in the number of children needing foster care in North Carolina. While historically, Crossnore School & Children’s Home in Winston-Salem has cared for teenagers and older youth in foster care, the recent opioid epidemic has resulted in an increased need to foster younger children in the past two years.
Sandy Sauer, Crossnore School & Children’s Home’s Director of Foster Care and Adoptions, shared that foster care can be provided in two different venues at their agency: Community and Residential Foster Care.
The Community Foster Care Program features:
- Children ages 0-21 live in private homes with trained foster parents. At present, there are 34 licensed homes with the Winston-Salem campus.
- There are 14 homes being licensed at the Avery campus.
- There will be a program at the Hendersonville campus in the near future.
- Therapeutic Care, Family/Traditional Care, Respite Care and Foster to Adopt Services are provided through Community Foster Care
The Residential Foster Care Program features:
- On-campus living in six cottages on the Winston campus.
- Two sets of professional cottage parents who care for the children on a rotating basis 24/7 to provide consistency in care.
- Permission for sibling groups to stay together.
- On-campus living in 14 cottages on the Avery campus.
Children are placed in foster care when they are not able to be safe in their homes. Licensed foster homes in the community and cottages on the Crossnore campus provide for the needs of these children, including their physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs, until they can safely return to their families. Fostering is different than parenting, with unique challenges and also great rewards. It takes a special family to support a child in their healing and growth, but these special families come in all shapes and sizes and from all backgrounds. Yours might be one of them.
How does someone become a foster parent?
“There is a misconception that foster parents must be a married couple,” Sandy explained, “however, that is not the case. Anyone (single or married), 21 years of age or over and in good health can apply to be a foster parent. Stability, a desire to help children, compassion, empathy, a willingness to learn, and the ability to be flexible are important traits for a foster parent.” The application and background-check procedures are reviewed as part of the general interest process. Kelly Riley, Licensing Specialist/Foster Care Trainer, verified that 15 foster parents are currently in the training process. Kelly conducts classes for potential foster parents three times per year; the next scheduled class begins on May 17th at the Crossnore campus (1001 Reynolda Road). The training program lasts eleven weeks, with classes twice a week for three hours each session. Training includes coverage on foster parenting skills, therapeutic foster parenting, and crisis prevention.
“People tend to think that someone else will step up and become a foster parent,” Sandy declared. “Take a chance. If we don’t help the children, who will? We need to break the cycle of trauma for them and help them find a place of hope and healing. Every child deserves a family,” Kelly maintained. “It is moving to see the light in children’s eyes after some time in a healing environment. Meeting a child on the worst day of their life and then seeing them begin to heal is remarkable.”
For additional information about the Foster Care and Adoptions program, Kelly Riley, Licensing Specialist/Foster Care Trainer, can be reached via phone (336.721-7641) or by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).
For information about Crossnore School & Children’s Home’s other programs, call the general contact phone (336.721.7600), e-mail (email@example.com), or visit their website (crossnore.org). Follow them on social media (Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram).
“Foster parents change the world one heart at a time.” ~ Author Unknown