Child Welfare System: North Carolina

Goals

To provide a general description of how the child welfare system in works in North Carolina, the organizations that are involved, and how they work together. This will be used to better understand the initiative and to inform the positioning of Children's Home Society of NC in this regard.

Early Findings

General Description

  • Child welfare involves three aspects: child protective, foster care placement, and adoption services.
  • "Protective services are intended to protect children who have been alleged to be abused, neglected, or dependent and are established in Chapter 7B of the North Carolina General Statutes, which is commonly referred to as “the Juvenile Code.”"
  • "Foster care and adoption services apply to children who require care outside of their families. This type of substitute care is regulated by the State, who has a duty to assure that the care is of optimum quality and as close as possible to the nurturing care society expects of a family."
  • However, while the term "child wefare" is not defined in the laws of North Carolina, it mostly used as a general term in statutes, regulations, and state policy that discuss child protective, foster care placement, and adoption services. Nonetheless, these regulations must meet the minimum requirements as established by federal laws.
  • In NC, child welfare services are provided by county departments and supervised/overseen by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS). "Hence, rather than one centralized state administered system, the 100 different county departments provide child welfare services to families."
  • A county department is typically a department of social services (DSS) but may be a consolidated county human services agency or a regional social services department that carries out social services functions.
  • "The North Carolina courts are also part of the child welfare system."
  • "Their vision is that all programs administered by the Division of Social Services will embrace family centered practice principles and provide services that promote security and safety for all. This means that every child in North Carolina will grow up in a safe, permanent, self-sufficient family where well-being needs of all are met."
  • The main aim or purpose of the system in NC is to prevent, identify, and treat child abuse and neglect. Other aims include balancing the interests of NC with the constitutional rights of parents and children and implementing North Carolina’s Juvenile Code.

Organizations Involved

  • Organizations and agencies that can operate within this system include child-placing agencies for foster care, child-placing agencies for adoption, residential child-care facilities, residential maternity homes and foster homes. However, these agencies would have to be licensed by the Division of Social Services, as required by state regulations.
  • These agency listings provide the licensed agencies in the state.
  • Others include certified child advocacy centers (CAC) that provide services for families in their county who have children that have been a victim of sexual abuse.

Children's Home Society of NC

  • "Children's Home Society of NC provides families with the support and resources they need to be a forever family, with services ranging from adoption and foster care to parent education and teen pregnancy prevention to post adoption support for families."

Proposed next steps:

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