May 2, 2002
MAY IS NATIONAL FOSTER CARE MONTH
FOSTER CARE GETS COMMUNITY ATTENTION
SATURDAY NEIGHBORHOOD MEETING TO HELP RECRUIT
Charlotte, NC -- An effort is underway to keep children in their own neighborhoods who must enter foster care. Recruiting foster families in key communities can help make that happen.
On Saturday, a community meeting to learn more about foster care and adoption is set for 10 a.m. at the Boys & Girls Club, 901 Belmont Avenue in Charlotte. The May 4, meeting is the fourth since February, and another is scheduled on June 22.
A high number of children in Mecklenburg County's custody who've been placed in foster care come from homes within two zip code areas -- 28205 and 28208. Data in January 2002 showed that nearly 31 percent of the 1,058 children in custody lived in the two areas prior to entering the custody of the Department of Social Services (DSS).
Child welfare advocates say that the chance for a child in custody to continue attending the same school, playing with friends, and living near familiar surroundings can help him or her adjust to the way their life has changed, and assist with quicker re-unification.
The County's DSS, through its Youth and Family Services Division (YFS) and partnerships with two contract agencies, is working on the situation with an initiative called "Communities for Families & Kids." Neighborhood partnerships are key to the success of the initiative, which is one way that Mecklenburg County is working to keep abused, neglected and dependent children safe. The initiative also seeks to ensure that every child has a permanent home in a timely manner.
Another Choice for Black Children, Inc., and Gather Up the Fragments Ministries are two community-based agencies working with YFS. The pilot collaboration seeks to cultivate a strong relationship with the community and educate people about foster care and adoption. The goal is to recruit foster and adoptive families from the two zip codes. The areas are just west of uptown Charlotte for 28208, including West Boulevard, Wilkinson Boulevard and Rozzells Ferry Road. The 28205 area just east of uptown includes the Plaza, Central Avenue and Eastway Drive.
The initiative is being supported by the state of N.C. and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The vision is to build a partnership between families, neighborhood stakeholders, service providers and DSS Youth and Family Services, to ensure that all children can thrive in safe, permanent and lovingfamilies.