Buncombe County children, youth need loving foster homes

Buncombe County, N.C. (July 3, 2024) — The COVID pandemic may seem like ancient history to most western North Carolinians, but foster children in Buncombe County are still feeling its ripple effects. Due to abuse, neglect, or other adverse circumstances, they need stable and supportive temporary homes – and there simply aren’t enough licensed foster families to go around.

“At last count, we have over 350 children in foster care in Buncombe County and under 200 licensed homes to take them,” says Jennifer Armellini, regional foster care manager for Lutheran Services Carolinas (LSC), a Salisbury-based nonprofit.

“Since the pandemic, fewer families are pursuing or renewing their foster licenses,” Armellini adds. “The shortage is so severe that DSS [the Department of Social Services] has had to place up to 80 children outside of Buncombe County.”

LSC provides a wide range of foster care programs in western North Carolina. It recruits foster parents for typical children and youth, as well as for those who need special care due to emotional, behavioral, medical, and/or other needs. Foster children range in age from birth to young adulthood, and foster parents from all walks of life are welcome.

“LSC has worked with singles, married couples, same sex couples, and retirees,” says Armellini. “We screen prospective foster parents carefully and help them get their foster license. And once you are licensed, we provide ongoing support and reimbursement.”

LSC also offers a Transitional Living Program for youth ages 15 to 21 who will soon age out of the foster care system. They are placed in licensed homes and receive personalized coaching to build independence skills.

LSC’s local foster care programs are funded in part by Dogwood Health Trust, an Asheville-based private foundation focused on improving the health and well-being of western North Carolinians.

To learn more about becoming a foster parent in western North Carolina, please contact Whitney Burton at wburton@lscarolinas.net or 828-283-0126.