Foster parents are a crucial part of Lutheran Services Carolinas, which is why LSC was grateful to receive several grants from the Winston-Salem Foundation to boost and support foster programs in Forsyth County.
In 2016, LSC received a $42,000 grant from the foundation to hire a lead clinical specialist to establish a Therapeutic Foster Care (TFC) program in the county. Youth served through TFC often have emotional and/or behavioral challenges that require more support, structure, and intervention than what is typically provided in family foster care.
This new TFC program complemented LSC’s existing IAFT (Intensive Alternative Family Treatment) program in Forsyth County, which serves youth with more significant challenges.
Adding the TFC program allowed LSC to provide more children and families in the county with the specialized services they needed.
In late 2018, LSC also received $35,000 from the Winston-Salem Foundation to create a family recruiter position, which focuses on recruiting foster families for Forsyth County IAFT and Therapeutic Foster Care programs.
Enter Paul Elliott, LSC’s first dedicated family recruiter in Forsyth County. Before Elliott joined the team, LSC did not have the capacity to do as much community outreach as it would have liked. With family recruiting as his primary responsibility, Elliott was able to spend his days out in the community, talking to anyone who would listen about becoming foster parents.
“I spoke at a lot of churches and community events; basically, I talked to anyone who would talk to me,” Elliott said.
Latoya Smiling, IAFT State Director, said the position was needed because Forsyth County was having trouble finding placements for foster children in the area. Prior to applying for the grant, LSC had to turn away 42 IAFT and TFC referrals due to lack of available homes for these children.
Because the program progressed so well, the foundation eventually gave LSC an additional $24,000 to continue supporting the family recruiter position.
“We’ve learned from Paul being in the community and brining information to us that getting the knowledge out there about foster care and letting people know they can make a difference in a child’s life is so important,” Smiling said.
Thanks to Elliott’s efforts, one Forsyth County foster child was able to return to his home community. Originally placed in Wilmington due to a lack of foster families in the Forsyth County area, the child is now in a stable home because of the increase of foster family availability.
“Now he can visit his siblings. He is doing great with his new family, and it’s exciting to be able to have the capacity to do things like that,” Smiling said.
To learn more about IAFT or foster care in Winston-Salem, call 336-893-5420.