By Sherrie Norris
Currently, there are more than 12,000 children in foster care in North Carolina. Let that sink in. Just as startling as the stats is the fact that 70 of those are in Watauga County, alone — and only 25 licensed foster care homes are available locally to meet the ongoing, ever-growing needs.
In an effort to increase awareness and opportunities for families to become involved in caring for these precious children, an information-packed luncheon is planned for this coming Saturday, Feb. 9, from 12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. at Perkinsville Baptist Church in Boone.
Special guest speakers will be Gretchen Goers, assistant director of foster care at the Crossnore School, and Jessica Winebarger, licensing and adoptions social worker at Watauga County Department of Social Services.
According to event facilitator, Celia Marsh, Goers and Winebarger will share how critical the need is for foster families in the High Country, as well as information on becoming certified as a foster home.
“We will also discuss community ministries and resources that will support your family through the foster and adoption journey,” said Marsh. “This luncheon is an educational event, both for families considering foster/adoption, as well families interested in supporting those who foster/adopt.”
Sharing the numbers on the dilemma currently facing our state, Goers said, “Crossnore is seeking foster parents and parents seeking to foster to adopt (couples and singles are accepted) in the High Country — those who are looking to make a difference in the life of a child.”
Goers stressed that it is Crossnore’s goal to keep children (siblings) together while in foster care.
“In the meeting on Saturday, we are going to talk further about the need for foster parents in the High Country — mostly due to parental substance abuse — in addition to how a family can obtain license through attending classes on nights and weekends, and what a referral might look like.”
She added, “Should a family be interested in adoption, Crossnore will complete their home assessment and then match them with children who are either moving towards adoption or who are legally free for adoption.”
She explained that Crossnore’s Avery County campus offers medical services, counseling services and psychiatric services to each of the children in their care.
What sets Crossnore apart, Goers emphasized, is its goal to keep siblings together while they are in care. Otherwise, and in many cases, she added, children are split apart into several different families.
“We honestly cannot license families fast enough to keep up with the need in the area,” she stressed.
For the 70 kids currently in foster care in Watauga County, Winebarger noted, “Almost all of them are in placement, but the numbers keep rising and we are just trying to keep up.”
Winebarger has been hosting two large group training sessions each year, she said, with one-on-one training in between.
“Almost everyone who has been licensed in the past year has gotten a child or sibling group placed with them the week after they are licensed,” she added. “I have also been licensing relatives who are caring for children in the foster care system, so they can get the monetary help they need.”
Faith Community Steps In
The situation is near and dear to the heart of the local faith community, said Marsh, who is coordinating Saturday’s meeting on behalf of Perkinsville Church in its new partnership with Chosen Ministry.
Marsh explains, “ Chosen Ministry started at Alliance Bible Fellowship by Mike and Karen Kimbro, who have been wonderful in prayerfully leading support groups for those in the community pursuing this awesome opportunity. The Kimbros have two biological sons, two adopted sons and are currently embarking on a third adoption, this time of a daughter.”
Marsh continued, “We are encouraging people to search their hearts in the calling, and come alongside those who choose to foster and adopt — to support the families who are walking on this pathway.”
Among Marsh’s favorite scripture passages, which she said is applicable to the works of this ministry, is as follows: John 1:12-13 “But to all who did receive Him, who believe in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
If you need more information and/or would like to attend this lunch meeting, please respond immediately by emailing
Marsh at [email protected] or call the Perkinsville Church Office at (828) 264-8605. RSVP is needed for space and food preparation.
Perkinsville Baptist Church is located at 274 Jefferson Road in Boone.