North Carolina could reduce the number of neglected children by boosting family income supports. Photo: Istock/Getty Images
Gov. Roy Cooper signed a bill into law Friday that allows couples to foster a child or siblings even if their household exceeds the maximum number of kids.
Legislators passed House Bill 815 in an effort to get more children into otherwise qualifying foster homes.
According to national foster care data, North Carolina has lost over 2,000 licensed foster homes since 2020. A foster home may house more than five children, the current maximum, if they obtain written permission, according to the new law. This applies if the maximum is the only thing that would exclude the home from bringing in new children.
The written documentation must be submitted to the licensing authority saying that the siblings can be placed in the household in spite of the five-child limit. It must also address the foster parents’ skills, stamina, and ability to care for the children.
Current foster children, as well as the foster parent’s new children, are included in the count when determining the home’s eligibility.
Before this law, federal exceptions to the five-child limit were already in place so that keeping siblings together could remain a priority.
However, families who were new to the foster care system in North Carolina who already had five children were barred.
Rep. Allen Chesser (R-Nash), the sponsor of the bill, previously stated that “larger families were being arbitrarily disqualified from fostering simply because they were larger families. The disqualification happens on the front end of the process, without any safety checks occurring.”
The Social Services Commission is also now required to establish temporary rules to enable the new condition to be enforced. The Department of Health and Human Services and other applicable agencies must also submit a plan that acknowledges the new law to the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services so that the foster care system can maintain federal funding.
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