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Facing a critical shortage, Wake County launches campaign aimed at recruiting foster parents

Wake County foster parent Jammie Johnson poses for a picture at Tuesday's press conference.
Sharryse Piggott
Wake County foster parent Jammie Johnson poses for a picture at Tuesday's press conference.

Wake County has launched a series of videos aimed at recruiting more people to foster children and teens due to a critical shortage of foster homes.

At a press conference Tuesday, officials said there are only 94 foster homes in the county, but 466 kids in the system. Wake County officials said it’s so bad that they had to place 18 children and teens out of state because of the shortage. Jammie Johnson, a six-year Wake County foster parent, is one of the people who is featured as part of the video campaign.

Foster Care 3 Short.mp4

Johnson said they just want people to help in any way they can.

“There are ways to help with the crisis like providing short-term care,” said Johnson, who was also at Tuesday’s press conference. “Just provide respite. And what respite is, is you just have children very short term ... whether it's a day, whether it's two days, three days.”

Respite gives foster parents or guardian family members some downtime to do things like dinner dates. Johnson also said that people can do long-term care too, like "foster-to-adopt." That means someone will adopt a child who cannot go back to their family.

“In North Carolina between 2021 and 2022, the number of licensed foster homes plunged 23%,” Wake County Commission Chair Shinica Thomas said. “That means in one year, our state lost over 1,400 safe homes for foster youth.”

Thomas said the recommended budget for Wake County next year includes an additional $3.5 million for child welfare to help with early intervention and foster parent recruitment.

Meanwhile, Wake County is hosting a pop-up foster care information event on Wednesday at 1 p.m. in Zebulon at the Eastern Regional Center.

Sharryse Piggott is WUNC’s PM Reporter.
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