A Greensboro organization is having success helping move children out of foster care and into permanent homes.  The Children’s Home Society is running a pilot project created by the General Assembly that is making a positive difference in some foster children’s lives.

A law passed in 2013 by the General Assembly created the “Permanency Innovation Initiative,” which began in 2014 as a pilot project, with the Children’s Home Society chosen to implement the project.

The goal of the initiative is to move children in foster care into a permanent home.

There are three specific services that the Children’s Home Society provides to help reach this goal.  The group provides child-specific adoption recruitment services – finding kids that make good candidates for adoption. It finds family members of foster children that may not have been found by the county department of social services where they live and who might be candidates for adopting the foster child.  And it provides training for local departments of social services and also for families preparing to make an adoption.

The General Assembly funded the project with nearly $4 million over two years.

The Permanency Innovation Initiative Oversight Committee that oversees the project met on Dec. 16. 

Children’s Home Society Senior Director Matt Anderson told the committee that 282 children are being served statewide in finding family members and child-specific adoption recruitment services.

Anderson said that since they began in 2014, 29 children have left foster care and have been placed in a permanent family and an additional 38 children have been placed with a family that may become their permanent home.

Including Guilford County, there are 60 of North Carolina’s county social service agencies working with Children’s Home Society on the project, either by referring children, finding family members or receiving training.

Brenden Hargett, clinical operations coordinator for Guilford County Department of Social Services said Guilford County had 431 children in foster care at the end of November 2015.   Statewide the number of foster children is 10,401.

Anderson told the committee that 781 people have received a total of 223 hours of training in child recruitment for adoption and in finding family members of foster children.  Additionally, 78 sessions and 106 hours of training have been held with families who are committed to becoming permanent homes for foster children.

Anderson also told the committee of one success story involving a boy named Shawn in Yancey County, who entered foster care at the age of 4.  Services from the project began when Shawn was 12, and their family finder’s work led to finding 39 new family members who were potential candidates for adopting him.  Shawn was adopted by his step-grandparents and is in a permanent home environment and out of the foster care system.

When asked how this project differs from what county social services employees do on a day-to-day basis in trying to help kids in foster care, Barringer said, “It’s a collaborative effort.  They’re in 60 counties now, going in and training employees on how to do this, and then partnering and collaborating with them to help find families for these children that are very hard to place.”