- Social Services
- Building Resilience
As of May 1, 2020, there were 219 children under the legal responsibility of Rowan County DSS. These children and youth are between infancy and age 20, with a fairly equal distribution among groups of ages 0-5, 6-12, and over age 12.
Most of the children in care (78%) have at least one sibling also in care, with sibling groups ranging in size from 2 to 5. 23 sibling groups of 2 are placed together (68%) and 12 sibling groups of 3 are placed together (42%). Of our sibling groups of 4, 67% are placed together, with only 17% of our sibling groups of 5 placed together.
Race & Ethnicity
African American children and youth represent 22% of kids in care, and the largest majority of the foster care population is Caucasian (62%). Children and youth identified as having more than one racial heritage make up the remainder. Ten percent (10%) of our children and youth are of Hispanic/Latino origin.
Where are they?
Our children under age 18 are largely placed in family settings, either in foster families or with relatives/kin, an amazing 82%. Of these young people, over half are in family foster care settings. The remaining 28% of children are in group care.
Nearly 25% of our children and youth under age 18 are placed outside Rowan County for lack of available families here at home who can meet their needs.
As of May 1, 2020, there are 31 foster families licensed with Rowan County Department of Social Services. Our families are 78% Caucasian, 19% African American, and 3% identified as having more than one racial heritage. Of our families, only 6% identify as having Hispanic/Latino origin. A little over half of our families identify themselves as LGBTQIA friendly, and almost all are interested in taking in sibling groups. Most do not have the capacity to take sibling groups larger than 3, especially if children are already placed with them. Almost half of our families are open to considering teenagers for placement.
It is nearly always a primary goal to support healing in families so children can safely return home. Since July 1, 2017, 211 children have achieved permanency, and 59 of these were reunified with the parents/caretakers from whom they were removed (28%). Reunification rates may change slightly from one year to the next, but 5 years of data indicate an average of 27% reunification rate.
When reunification is not safely possible, the court considers other alternatives in the child’s best interests. Of the 211 children that achieved permanence since July 1, 2017, almost 43% were placed in the custody or guardianship of a relative or other court-approved caretaker. Custody is the least legally permanent of the two options, and both are less permanent than adoption. Visitation with parents is court-ordered as part of the custody or guardianship arrangement unless visitation is determined to be not in the child’s best interest.
When children are not able to safely return home or establish safe, permanent options with kin, adoption is an option. Since July 1, 2017, 19% of our children achieved permanency via adoption. Adoption is the most permanent option and is not possible without parents’ relinquishing their parental rights, the court’s order to terminate parental rights, or the death of biological parents. Sometimes children become “legally free” for adoption because of a combination of these factors. Adoption is the legal means of creating a new legal relationship between parent and child with all of the rights and responsibilities that would exist if the child was a biological child.
A few youths are in our care when they reach age 18, an average of 10% since June 1, 2017. We offer these young people the option of remaining in care voluntarily until age 21 while we collaborate with them and their placement providers to support the achievement of independent living goals. For some, this means college or technical school, job search and support, basic life skill development, and possibly ongoing therapeutic interventions to position them to be able to work on other independent living skills. Some young adults are not interested in remaining in care, but they have the option of returning later if they are interested in entering an agreement to work and/or attend school. Our preference will always be safe, permanent homes for our children and youth, but for those youth who reach majority while in foster care, we remain committed to helping them navigate the challenges of starting life as an adult.
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN)
NCTSN was created by Congress in 2000 as part of the Children’s Health Act to raise the standard of care and increase access to services for children and families who experience or witness traumatic events. This unique network of frontline providers, family members, researchers, and national partners is committed to changing the course of children’s lives by improving their care and moving scientific gains quickly into practice across the U.S.
↑ Click the graphic for more information.
From the Heart
Douglas & Diana Adams: Fostering since 2017. Fostered 16 kids. Grew family by 1 through adoption.
Our story began as we sought to follow Jesus’ example and help others. Our hearts pulled us to foster care. We completed training in Kentucky but had to start over when we moved to North Carolina We did not let this stop us. I remember the day Supervisor, Nadean Quarterman, came into class and made the announcement. "Rowan County DSS is not an Adoption Agency. The goal of foster care is to reunite children with there parents." This became our goal. We have had highs and lows in our journey but we were not and are not going to let anything stop us. We have chosen to love these kids and their families. I strive to be a strong advocate for my kids and this includes being passionate about shared parenting. Shared parenting can be challenging at times, but it gives my kids peace knowing I am determined to work with their parents and include them on the journey. Children don’t ask to put in these situations, and it’s heartbreaking, but with love, guidance and support make this journey so worth it. I’m thankful to Rowan County DSS for their support and trust they put in our family.
Adoption was never our goal. We accepted the placement of an infant that later became legally free for adoption. Though adoption was not our goal it was suddenly our kid’s goal and we could not say no. He needed us for more than just a temporary foster family. We were the only parents he knew. At 18 months old he became our son. If adoption is your goal, fostering is probably not for you. If you want to love kids and make them part of your family until they can reunite with their family, then this is for you. We’ve made mistakes along the way, nobody is perfect. We’ve learned from all our mistakes and grown from their lessons. We are beyond blessed to be a part of Rowan County DSS. If Fostering is something that weighs on your heart, please come to the next informational meeting. -Diana Adams
Martin & Sarah Shrewsbury: Fostered from 2014 until 2020. Fostered 8 kids. Grew family by 5 through adoption.
My name is Sarah Shrewsbury. I have been married for 12 years and we have 5 amazing kiddos. We have fostered to adopt 4 of my kids and are a kinship placement for our 5th child. Our lives changed drastically for the better in 2014 after licensing to foster. The journey has not always been easy. Some days are just overwhelming. However, there is not a day I would change my decision to foster/adopt. Even considering the fact I am currently home with 5 kids and homeschooling due to the coronavirus. I am grateful I have this time with them. The biggest advice I can give a new foster parent is when you take a kid in, you take the whole kid and not just the easy parts, including bio-family, behaviors, and trauma. I assure you when a child feels fully accepted they will flourish. It takes trial and error to get to that place. Some days I still feel like I am learning despite having some of my children for 6 years. I, myself have had a failed placement. I strongly urge you to complete any trauma training offered as I feel this may have saved the placement. I am so thankful for my family and all the attachments that come with them: bio-grandma, bio-siblings, former foster parents, and more. Connections, so long as they are healthy, should always be encouraged. I hope your journey holds amazing kids in your future. You will not regret this decision! -Sarah Shrewsbury