First Posted: 1/15/2009
Proper foster care is a growing problem nationwide and it’s here in Robeson County.
And it seems to be growing concern for the county’s Native American population, too.
Lumbee tribal representatives met with officials from four county Department of Social Service (DSS) offices (Robeson, Scotland, Hoke and Cumberland) and local churches to map out a way to recruit more Native American families in the county to become foster parents.
According to Laura Sampson, chairman of the tribe’s Health and Human Services committee, there are 252 foster children in the county and out of that total; almost half of that total are American Indian children. But the real problem shows that there are only 15 registered American Indian foster homes.
The campaign, entitled “Protecting Our Children, Preserving Our Culture,” looks to add more foster family homes by becoming foster parents.
“Our main goal is to recruit American Indian foster homes within Robeson County,” said Mrs. Sampson. “We have 124 American Indian children that are currently in the foster care agency, but there are only 15 homes that participate in this program. So, the American Indian Child Welfare Act proposes that for American Indian children that are removed from their homes, they be placed in American Indian foster homes, so that it may protect their culture, their heritage, and their identity as American Indians.”
Sampson said that there is certain criteria that must be met first before families can become foster parents or families.
“We hear from our local county Department of Social Services that folks have to meet some requirements and some training that they have to go through to be certified as an American Indian foster home. The other thing may be corporal punishment. This gives us some issues we, as the Lumbee Tribe, will have to address.”
To become a foster parent, foster parents must be at least 21 years of age, be willing to be fingerprinted and have a criminal background check, have a stable home and income, maintain a drug-free environment, complete all required training and be licensed by the State of North Carolina, and not have any substantiated abuse and/or neglect reports.
A total of 30 hours of classroom training is required to become certified.
One supervisor from a local DSS agency stated that families do step forward and express and interest in wanting to become a foster home, but they are not licensed and don’t follow through with the application process. The two main problems that arise for the need for foster care is domestic and drug abuse in the home. Age groups are from 0-5 years and children tend to stay in the system for less than a year. If more than a year, a more permanent home is looked for.
“We are willing and excited to do this and we are looking forward to educating our people and encourage them to become a part of this campaign,” Sampson said.
If interested in becoming an American Indian foster parent, contact Alex Baker at the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina by calling 910-522-2202.
“We’re willing and excited to do that and we look forward to educating our people and encourage them to become a part of this campaign,” Sampson added.