Children are the essence of any community. They bring joy to our lives and provide hope for a brighter future. However, there are some children that have needs that only a community can fill. Children who are unable to live safely in their homes, for whatever reason, often end up being a part of the foster care system. It is a difficult time for them, but a community that is prepared to support them can make all the difference. In our community, we have a foster care crisis. There is not enough community support and there are not enough families trained and licensed to care for the foster children in our community. Crossnore School & Children’s Home is working hard to change that, because they understand that this community crisis will take a community response.
Crossnore, a non-profit child welfare agency, is dedicated to its mission, which is to grow healthy futures for children and families by providing a Christian sanctuary of hope and healing. And they take that very seriously. In addition to residential services, they also provide community-based foster care and adoption services, outpatient therapy, education, and school-based clinical services. For them, it is about child welfare and behavioral health support to achieve their goal of creating hope and healing for children in crisis.
Crossnore provides foster homes for children in two ways. They have residential cottages and they also work with licensed community foster homes. The cottages are often used to provide space for larger sibling groups and children with particular needs that need to be met. The licensed community foster homes are homes in the community where families bring children into their own homes. They are always recruiting foster families, because there is a great need for these families in our community.
Local foster parent Christine recently started fostering after having four years as an empty-nester. “My home, my life, and my heart definitely had more love, nurturing, and affection to give.” She understands that it is a big commitment and she’s emotionally involved. She went on to say, “Think about when your kids were little. Imagine something unexpected or extreme happening to your family and imagine your kid(s) being alone in the back seat of a car with strangers. What kind of home do you want them in until you can get everything straightened out? That is why I am doing this. These precious kids deserve to feel safe and loved.”
When a family is interested in becoming a foster family, Crossnore can play a role in that, too. They work with families to provide the training, licensure, and support they need by offering the necessary classes, as well as walking them through the process of becoming licensed by the state. Classes are provided at the Crossnore campus as well as in the community. They partner with churches and community programs to make these classes convenient and accessible to everyone.
A little over a year ago, Crossnore started a program, funded by the Duke Endowment, called Fostering Communities. This three-year initiative will take the idea of foster families caring for children in crisis and change that to a fostering community that supports foster children and the families that care for them. Foster families take on a great responsibility and the goal is to focus on supporting the child, while the community rallies around them to help them achieve that goal.
Sarah Norris, Crossnore Child Welfare Director, said, “The truth is that we need to look at this foster care crisis as a community and realize that there is a role we can all play in being a part of the solution. If you feel called to foster children in your home, we really need you. Or if you feel your role is one that would be more aligned with supporting the families that foster children, we need you, too. Some people foster to adopt; others are career foster parents. Your role does not have to look a certain way. It is just so important that, as a community, we all work together to make a difference in the lives of these children.”
There is always a need for foster families in our community. There is a greater need for families willing to take in teenage children and to assist children who need therapeutic care. If you would like more information about finding the role you can play in foster care in our community, visit the Crossnore foster care and adoptions website at fosteringcommunities.org, or call their main number at (336) 721-7600 and ask to speak to their foster care team.