12/15/05 — Foster children need help for Christmas

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Foster children need help for Christmas

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on December 15, 2005 1:51 PM

The number of foster children in Wayne County has risen by more than two dozen this year, creating concern about providing Christmas presents for them, social service workers said.

Terry Harne and Lida Fultz, adoption social workers with the Department of Social Services in Wayne County, said the foster children's Christmas fund is lagging behind.

"We have had very little donated this year," Ms. Harne said. Letters are sent out in the fall to past contributors, which typically include businesses, civic groups and churches.

Compared to last year, when there were 119 youths in foster homes, there are now 145. With 45 foster homes in Wayne County, she said social services is in the process of licensing new ones.

While foster parents receive a monthly supplement, it doesn't cover everything, Ms. Fultz said.

"I think anybody that has children knows it takes a great deal of money to take care of a child's needs," she said. "Some of our foster homes have five or six children in them."

Ms. Fultz said Wayne County has good foster parents, "but it's not really their responsibility; it's a community thing."

So, making sure these children have something for Christmas is a project to which all county residents can contribute, she added.

"We want to remind people that there are other children that are not as fortunate," Ms. Fultz said. "Some children get so many things they can't play with all of them. Then there are others like this. Many times children are removed from a home in an emergency-type situation where they have to be moved right then. There's just not time, or they don't have the clothing available."

"Sometimes they come with the clothes on their backs," added Ms. Harne.

That is especially true for newborns taken into custody, Ms. Fultz said. At least eight have been added to the rolls this year.

"A lot of times there's a serious drug background," she said. "They're not sure if that child could appropriately be cared for, and the child might be taken until the home can be investigated."

"Sometimes parents just don't want to care for the children," Ms. Harne said, explaining that holds true in cases where the mother already has several children to care for or is a teen parent.

Social services is responsible for making sure those in its care go to school the next day or get to day care. That doesn't even consider needs above and beyond the basics, she said.

"Even though it's late, we have so many needs for our foster children," Ms. Fultz said. Funds donated are spread as far as possible, with efforts made to provide gifts the children would like.

"People have been very helpful in the past year and have been good to us," Ms. Fultz said. "It's just that we have got more children this year. Everybody's having to pitch in."

In addition to making monetary donations to the fund, she said some have chosen to sponsor a child or donated new or gently used clothing to the Foster Parent Association.

"(The Association) works really hard for our children to do the extras for them," she said. Comprised of foster parents, the group has its own building on Ormond Avenue where it meets monthly. In addition to the clothing room to store donated items, there are several visitor rooms where the children can meet with their biological parents.

The foster parents group also strives to create a sense of normalcy for its charges, planning Christmas parties, taking the children to the movies or fishing.

"Things that we take for granted," Ms. Fultz said. "Some have never been fishing, to the movies, out to eat."

For more information on the foster parents program, contact Ms. Fultz at 731-1093 or Ms. Harne at 731-1097. Donations for the foster children's Christmas fund can be made to Wayne County Department of Social Services and sent to the attention of Rebecca Rouse, 301 N. Herman Street, Goldsboro, N.C. 27530.