Adoption and/or Foster Care Legislation - North Carolina: Part One
North Carolina administers foster care and adoptions through the Department of Health and Human Services in conjunction with county agencies and licensed private agencies. Children in North Carolina can stay in foster care up to the age of 21 and have additional social services available to them. The North Carolina General Assembly has proposed some changes to the foster care and adoption system in the past year but so far not passed any bills related to these programs.
Insight #1: Public and Private Groups Involved in Foster Care and Adoptions
- Foster care and adoptions in North Carolina are administered by the state's Department of Health and Human Services, in the division of Child Welfare Services.
- The state office works very closely with county Department of Social Services offices to support foster care and adoption.
- Private adoption and foster services are allowed in North Carolina, though these groups must be licensed by the state.
Insight #2: Age Requirements in Foster Care and Adoptions in North Carolina
- Anyone over 21 can apply to be a foster parent in North Carolina. Foster parents must be licensed and go through training though.
- Children up to the age of 21 can be enrolled in foster care homes or participate in the NC LINKS program. Not all states have moved to supporting children in foster care through the age of 21, though North Carolina has.
- Foster children in North Carolina are covered by Medicaid up to the age of 26, assuming they were enrolled in foster care at the age of 18.
Insight #3: Proposed Legislation on Foster Care and Adoption in the North Carolina General Assembly
- The North Carolina General Assembly and Governor have not yet managed to pass a budget, so proposed reimbursement increases (H 850) for foster care have not occurred.
- One bill (H 826) was proposed to fund trauma screening in all children entering foster care over the age of four; it did not make it out of committee.
- Another bill proposed in the General Assembly in 2019 (H 918) would have allowed speedier adoptions for foster parents; it was sent back to committee. This bill caused controversy with parental rights advocates as it would have made it harder for parents to regain custody of their biological children who were surrendered to foster care.
- Other proposed bills related to foster care and adoption were designed to streamline and clean up processes in the Department of Health and Human Services.
We first used the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Government's Legislative Reporting Service to find information on the topics of "foster care" and "adoption" in the most recent North Carolina General Assembly session. We reviewed these individual bills and listed the main findings from them. For the policy side, we also reviewed the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services website, as that government agency is responsible for administering the foster care and statewide adoption programs. Credible news sources for the state of North Carolina were also reviewed to provide opinions and background on proposed legislation.