NC Action for Children recently released an issue brief regarding the state of child welfare in NC. The report indicates both successes as well as areas for growth in this tremendously important program. After reading the report, I was most struck by the information surrounding children who age out of foster care and what becomes of them once they are no longer the responsibility of the state. Reportedly, North Carolina does not have a system of transitional supports for children aging out of the system and last year 623 foster children aged out of foster care without a permanent family or supports to guide them into adulthood.
North Carolina does, in fact, have transitional foster care services. NC LINKS is the program to assist children who are making the transition from foster care into adulthood, yet according to Action for Children's report, a child's access to these services varies by county and even by caseworker. With 623 children left adrift last year alone, it is startling to learn that all 100 counties are not providing equal access to these services on behalf of these children. 1 in 5 foster children will experience homelessness, and many more will have psychological and legal issues as a result of their stay in the foster care system. It is imperative that we as a state not release ourselves from responsibility of these children simply because they turn 18. Child welfare workers need support to assist these children and to access the funding to ensure that ALL of North Carolina's foster care children are supported to become successful, healthy adults.
Want to read the entire report?