'The Changing Faces of Foster Care' event a success for local foster parents

September 17, 2019

Raleigh, NC – More than 100 current and “considering” foster parents attended the Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina “The Changing Faces of Foster Care” training event at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Raleigh Brownstone in Raleigh on Saturday, Sept. 7.

“Our goal is to be supportive of the foster parents creating an opportunity for youth to have brighter futures,” said B&GH President Gary Faircloth. “I am so grateful that we were able to put together this special event to provide an incredible training for parents currently served by B&GH and other fostering agencies in the region.”

This special training was coordinated by the B&GH Community Based Services Office located in Raleigh and was sponsored by the generosity of the Carolina Hurricanes Foundation and a special donor.

“We were truly blessed that the support from the Carolina Hurricanes and Rose Cotton allowed us to bring in fantastic presenters Nancy Hagan, D.F. Duncan and Donna Foster to provide training for interested foster parents,” said Vice President for Community Based Services Donna Yalch. “The insights provided during these presentations brought new knowledge and understanding for everyone in the room.”

Hagan and Duncan are part of the Project NO Rest team at the University of North Carolina School of Social Work, focused on issues of labor and sex trafficking. They shared their newly developed training on human trafficking for the first time to those in attendance.

“The absence of real data regarding the level of human trafficking and the lack of ability to recognize human trafficking limits true awareness of the prevalence of the issue,” said Duncan. “We continue to work with Child Protective Services to help address the identification of and treatment for victims of human trafficking. It is important information for foster parents to have so that they can be aware of how they can help the children in their care stay out of danger with regards to trafficking.”

Foster children are often targeted for human trafficking according to research in part because they are experiencing a number of the highest risk factors in their lives.

“The most recent data shows that relocation is the number one vulnerability factor for trafficking victims,” said Hagan. “That is what is happening with our foster care placements - youth are being relocated to a new home. The second highest vulnerability factor is social isolation, which is also often experienced by foster youth.”

Additional risk factors for trafficked youth include a history of maltreatment, family violence, homelessness, runaway status, substance use, family poverty, family dysfunction and multiple out-of-home placements.

“Anyone who comes in contact with children need to be provided with information on how to identify and help victims of human trafficking,” said Duncan.

Author, trainer and consultant Donna Foster presented on dealing with grief and loss after a foster child leaves your home.

“We are a bridge home,” said Foster. “We are the safe place for children to land during the worst times of their lives. These children go to people who love them enough to be willing to let them go. We do love our kids and that’s why we’re willing to grieve and let them go.”

Foster strongly advocates for foster parents to begin helping the child transition to their next home from the day they arrive.

“When you take care of a child, no matter for how long, your heart is affected,” Foster said. “When you create life books with photos and messages, you help that child know that he or she was loved and not abandoned by you. Make the promises you can keep, like you will pray for them every night at 10 p.m. That is a promise I made to each of the foster children I cared for and it is one that I keep to this day. And I will have those children ask me if I still pray for them, and I do.”

Foster reminded the parents that we are all different and our natural response to loss is different for all of us.

“We all experience loss differently,” Foster said. “The most important thing is to see what is happening and find a place to go to talk to other people who will understand. There are not many of us foster parents out there, therefore, it is important to be supported by those who can truly understand as they have experienced the grief and loss of a foster child transitioning out of your home.”

Foster encouraged every foster parent in attendance, or anyone considering becoming a foster parent, to constantly seek out educational opportunities.

“Take as many classes as you can,” she said. “We have to be supportive of ourselves and ask for the information you need.”

To help meet additional training needs, B&GH will be offering an additional training “Putting the Pieces Together” Nov. 9 at Highland Presbyterian Church in Fayetteville. The training is free, but registration is limited. For more information, or to register, contact Taylor Barber at taylor.barber@bghnc.org.

Each participant in the event received two small bags with gifts and all were eligible to receive door prizes provided by raffle donors.

“This was an incredible event and we look forward to continue to serve the community through future trainings and providing foster parents for the youth in need,” said Anna Scharff, director of the Raleigh Community Based Services office.

About Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina

Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina, Inc., has been helping children since 1954. Since then, more than 7,500 children have benefitted from the services of the not-for-profit, 501(c)3 agency. Its mission is to provide a comprehensive array of services for children and youth who have been removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect or other family dysfunction. B&GH offers adoption, family and therapeutic foster care, free children’s therapy, as well as residential care on the campus at Lake Waccamaw. The campus features a SACS-accredited school with a middle and high school curriculum, vocational education, recreation facilities, farm, chapel and cottage life. As many as 320 vulnerable children are cared for through the residential, community-based services, and school program provided by B&GH at any given time. B&GH operates its program, services and activities in compliance with federal nondiscrimination laws. B&GH is nationally accredited by the Council on Accreditation.