Each day there is another story in the news about a child being abused or neglected. Over the past several months, a group of 11 North Carolina Homes for Children have gathered to discuss how to best address this growing crisis.
“We create a home for children, providing normalcy for children coming from circumstances that are not normal,” said Crossnore School and Children’s Home Chief Executive Officer Brett A. Loftis. “We play a vital and unique role in the continuum of care for children in the state.”
The North Carolina Homes for Children is comprised of 11 nonprofit organizations who are recognized as leaders in the field of child welfare. With the number of children coming into the organizations’ care increasing due to rising needs, all agreed that the time was right to come together.
“We all share a common goal to see lives improved and hope restored for North Carolina children and families,” shared Loftis. “There is an unparalleled amount of experience, success and passion among this group. Working together not only gives us the best opportunity to help children and families but, as a byproduct, to also strengthen our communities across the state.”
Each of the organizations is nationally accredited with highly trained, professional care staff providing services for the children. It is something that local Departments of Social Services (DSS) have come to recognize as each of the Homes sees a high number of referrals coming from DSS offices.
“We are becoming the first call for DSS because they know that we can meet the needs of the children,” said Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina (BCH) Chief OperatingOfficer Keith Henry. “We are especially seeing this with the increase of large sibling groups needing care. It is important to keep siblings together if at all possible and that is something our Homes are able to provide.”
At times, brothers and sisters are split apart among multiple foster care homes. There is often not enough room in a single foster care home to accommodate a larger group of siblings.
“When DSS takes custody, these children are having to say goodbye to their family. You can imagine how upsetting it is for them to also lose their brothers and sisters as well,” explained Henry. “And this trend is only growing.”
BCH has seen the number of sibling groups in its care rise considerably. In only one year, the numbers jumped from 12 groups in 2013 to 58 in 2014. In 2017, BCH served 74 sibling groups.
“Nothing makes us happier than to be able to keep siblings together,” said Henry.
While each of the organizations offers different combinations of programs, the bottom line goal remains the same across the board.
“All of us want to provide the best quality care for our children,” said Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina President Gary Faircloth. “We want all of our children to experience the greatest levels of success in life, and we provide an environment to foster that greatness.”