By: LaDawn Pearson

Overview of Foster Care

Chris Hines and Latarsha Martin

Foster Care is a service extended by DSS to offer a systematic way of caring for children whose parents are unable to care for them. Children can come into foster care for a number of reasons, but overall because it has been determined that they are too unhealthy or situations in their home are too unsafe for them to remain. The Foster Care Program is designed to be a temporary refuge for these children until they can hopefully be successfully reunified with their original family.
Foster parents are vessels that assist children in foster care by caring for them and offering a safe, stable and nurturing environment until reunification can occur or permanence is achieved. Depending on the best interest of the child, permanence can be adoption, custody, guardianship, etc. The foster families open up their hearts and homes to the absolute unknown. Foster parents are licensed through the state and undergo training to better equip them to assist children who may have a variety of needs.

Celebrate the Children

During the Holiday season, DSS collects donations of all sorts and disseminates those things to foster families so that foster children will have some of their Holiday dreams come true. The program is called Celebrate the Children. Donations from community partners, individuals and proceeds from various fundraisers throughout the year help make the Celebrate the Children program a huge success every year.

Latarsha Martin

Latarsha has been in the Human Services field for over 22 years. She has been employed with Guilford county for 13 years working with Child Protective Services and Foster Care programs. Latarsha says “My love for people is what inspires me to keep pushing forward in my journey as a Social Worker. I’ve always said that if you can do Child Welfare in any capacity, you can launch a space ship to the moon.“

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of this job is establishing permanent connections for foster children.

Describe a moment or situation that impacted you in a positive way this year?
The most impacting moment for me this year is when I realized that my efforts of trying to recruit a foster parent came full circle. I was in the Social Security office about a year and a half ago. I met a lady that assisted me in applying for Social Security cards for children on my caseload. She asked me why did I have so many applications and I explained to her that I was a Foster Care Social Worker. The lady stated that she started taking the MAPP classes a while back but stopped due to the death of her brother. We chatted at her window for a bit and I encouraged her to reconsider becoming licensed. Earlier this year, I went back into the Social Security Office and the lady advised me that she was now a licensed foster parent through CHS. Prior to me accepting the position as a recruiter, I was able to place an infant child in her home. When I contacted the lady by phone regarding the placement and she realized who I was, she began to cry. We could not believe that almost 2 years later, she is licensed and had one of my foster kids placed in her home. That was a very rewarding moment for me.

What is the biggest misunderstanding folks have about your job/work?
The biggest misconception that people have about Child Protective Services is that DHHS automatically takes children. What most people fail to realize is that unless it is an emergency removal, DHHS allows the parents to identify a placement for their children and/or make a plan to avoid filing a petition and bringing children into foster care.

Another big misconception is that Social Workers do not want children to go home. That is not true. I would love to see children returned to their biological family if the conditions that led to the removal have been eliminated. Unfortunately, many times, reunification is not possible for a variety of reasons.

Interesting Facts:

1. Favorite band/musician? I listen to a wide variety of music and do not have a favorite artist.
2. Vacation Destination? The Bahamas, New York, California, Jamaica
3. Role Model? Michelle Obama
4. Sports Team? The Carolina Panthers
5. What inspires you most? My family
6. Hobbies/Leisure activities? I like to Bargain shop
7. Do you have an interesting fact that you would like to share?. I’ve broken a multitude of bones throughout my lifetime ie… my leg (2x) at different times, both wrist, my pinky, a toe or two, and various other bones. I was a Tom Boy growing up (who would’ve ever guessed huh that. I was an only child until I was 19 ½ years old.

Christopher Hines

Chris Hines has worked in the Human Services field for 24 years and has been employed with Guilford County for 11 years. What keeps him pushing forward is “Knowing that I might make an actual difference in the lives of the people I work with is a large part of the compensation since you don’t get rich in this field. That possibility of helping fuels me.”
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of being a Recruiter is knowing that I’ve played a role in beginning the process for interested parties to pursue licensure as a foster parent and seeing those same folks successfully navigate the process and actually become licensed foster parents.

Describe a moment or situation that impacted you in a positive way this year?
I received the “You Rock” Award a few months back and that was a recognition from coworkers that I had been doing a noticeably good job. I then had the pleasure of passing that award on to another colleague that I recognized as someone going above and beyond.

What is the biggest misunderstanding folks have about your job/work?
The one HUGE misunderstanding that people have about Recruitment is that it’s a pie job. The position involves being able to communicate to/with all manner of interested people, being available for many hours of work “beyond business hours”, strategising and finding new ways of Recruiting, navigating the social work and business worlds and knowing that you carry all of the pressure of results on your shoulders since I am the only person who’s been doing Recruiting during the last two years!!

Interesting Facts:
1. Favorite band/musician? Stevie Wonder / John Legend
2. Vacation Destination? Mountains
3. Role Model? My father. No doubt!!
4. Sports Team? Tar Heels, Cowboys, Warriors
5. What inspires you most? Fortitude in the face of purposeful hindrance
6. Hobbies/Leisure activities? Fishing, riding my motorcycle, sports, hanging out with family
7. Do you have an interesting fact that you would like to share? I was born with six fingers on each hand!!