North Carolina foster care and adoption guidelines

North Carolina Division of Health and Human Services improves outcomes for the children of North Carolina. We do this by acting as an advocate for the children and families we serve. We invite you to contact us with any questions you may have regarding fostering or adopting in North Carolina. We are available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. eastern time.

You may qualify to become a foster or adoptive parent if:

  • You are interested in providing a safe and loving home to a child.
  • You have patience and wisdom to share.
  • You are willing to learn about fostering or adoption.

Contact information

North Carolina Division of Health and Human Services

For general inquiries:
Toll free hotline: 877-625-4371
General email: nc.kids@dhhs.nc.gov
Fax: 877-625-4374
Address: 820 South Boylan Avenue, MSC #2445, Raleigh, NC 27699

Para información en Español, contacte:
Korri Mosley
nc.kids@dhhs.nc.gov
877-625-4371

For county-specific information, please contact one of the state consultants:

Alamance County through Cumberland County
Kim Best
Kimberly.Best@dhhs.nc.gov
919-527-6354

Currituck County through Jackson County
Britt Cloudsdale
Britt.Cloudsdale@dhhs.nc.gov
919-527-6358

Johnston County through Yancey County
Sharon Wynn
Sharon.Wynn@dhhs.nc.gov
919-527-6357

For questions about the Heart Gallery
Kim Best
Kimberly.Best@dhhs.nc.gov
919-527-6354

Korri Johnson
Administrative Assistant
Korri.Mosley@dhhs.nc.gov
919-527-6355

Things you should know

Foster care and adoption licensing requirements

Foster or adoptive parents must be ready to give a child or children opportunities to develop to their full potential – physically, academically, socially, and emotionally – with realistic expectations and unconditional support and love. That is the most important requirement.

Adoption requirements:

  • You must be at least 18 to become an adoptive parent.
  • You can adopt if you are single, married, divorced or widowed; own or rent; have parenting experience or none at all; already have children in your home or not.
  • Adoptive applicants will be finger printed and have a criminal record check completed
  • While State law does not specify the number of training hours to become an adoptive parent, most adoption agencies provide training to those who want to be foster or adoptive parents.

Please visit the NC Kids website for more information about adoption.

Foster care requirements:

  • The minimum age to become a foster parent is 21.
  • You can foster if you are single, married, divorced or widowed; own or rent; have parenting experience or none at all; already have children in your home or not.
  • Like adoptive applicants, foster applicants will also be finger printed and have a criminal record check completed.
  • You will need to complete all required training and be licensed as a foster parent. To do this, you will attend 30 hours of preparatory training called "Trauma-Informed Partnering for Safety and Permanence/Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting" (TIPS-MAPP). Many other families, like yourself, will also participate in the classes, and you will be able to learn from each others’ experiences.

To find out more on how to become a licensed foster parent call 877-625-4371 or view more foster care information.

Foster care and adoption costs

You can work with your county department of social services or a licensed private agency to foster or adopt for free.

Some private agencies not under contract with the State of North Carolina may charge a fee for their services.

To learn which private agencies are under contract with the State of North Carolina, please call 877-625-4371 or email nc.kids@dhhs.nc.gov.

Agency contact and orientation information

Once the County location of your family is determined, NC Kids will provide you with a list of private agencies that contract with the State of North Carolina, as well as the contact person at your local county department of social services.

Each County department of social services and private agency has their own orientation schedule. You can contact your local County Department of Social Services to inquire about their orientation session.

The following private agencies have extensive experience completing adoptions for children in the foster care system. They provide services at little or no cost to families. These agencies have locations throughout North Carolina to assist families in adopting children from the foster care system.  The private agencies include: 

Children’s Home Society of North Carolina
Phone: 800-632-1400
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 14608, Greensboro, NC 27415
Counties served: All counties

The Children's Home
Phone: 336-721-7600 (Winston-Salem) / 828-349-0345 (Franklin)
Address:  1001 Reynolda Road, Winston-Salem, NC 27104 / 827 Wiley Brown Road, Franklin, NC 28734
Counties served: Randolph, Rowan, Guilford, Forsyth, Stokes, Davidson and Franklin (families in other counties are welcome to call)

Methodist Home for Children
Phone: 888-305-4321
Mailing Address: 1041 Washington Street, Raleigh, NC 27605-1259
Counties served: All counties

Another Choice for Black Children
Phone: 800-774-3534
Address: 2340 Beatties Ford Road, Charlotte, NC 28216
Counties served: All counties

Boys and Girls Home of North Carolina
Phone: 910-646-2241
Address: PO Box 127, Lake Waccamaw, NC 28450
Counties served: All counties

Lutheran Family Services in the Carolinas
Phone: 919-861-2802
Address: PO Box 12287, Raleigh, NC 27605
Counties served: All counties

Seven Homes Foster Care and Adoption Agency
Phone: 336-542-3307
Address: 1312 Hamilton Place, Suite 101, High Point, NC 27262
Counties served: Call for county-specific information

Children's Hope Alliance
Asheville Office
Phone: 828-236-2877
Address: 38 Garfield Road, Suite D, Asheville, NC 28803
Counties served: Call for county-specific information

Banner Elk Office
Phone: 828-898-5465
Address: 158 Hickory Nut Gap Road, Banner Elk, NC 28604
Counties served: Call for county-specific information

The Crossnore School, Adoptions
Phone: 828-733-4305
Address: PO Box 249, 100 DAR Drive, Crossnore, NC 28616
Counties Served: All counties

Ebenezer Christian Children’s Homes
Phone: 336-667-5683
Address: PO Box 2777, North Wilkesboro, NC 28659
Counties Served: Wilkes, Ashe, Surry, Yadkin, Catawba, Iredell and Alleghany

View a list of licensed private child-placing agencies that provide adoption service (96 KB PDF) in North Carolina.

View a list of licensed private child-placing agencies that provide foster care (127 KB PDF) in North Carolina.

Parent support groups

North Carolina Foster and Adoptive Parent Association (NCFAPA): NCFAPA is a statewide organization of adoptive, foster and kinship parents, child welfare professionals, and child advocates who promote quality foster and adoptive services through collaborative advocacy, education, resources, and networking.

Family Resource Centers (FRC): Family Resource Centers are a community-based, centralized source for family support services provided through information and referral, on-site programming, or home-based strategies. Services established at the centers target families and children from birth through elementary school-aged and are provided for all family members. Examples of service models may include parent education, after-school programs, and information and referrals services. Contact your local County Department of Social Services to locate a FRC in your area.

Family Support Network (FSN-NC): The FSN-NC locations across the state provide support and information to families caring for children with special needs and for those individuals serving families. Call FSN-NC toll-free at 800-852-0042.

Please check with your local county department of social services for a listing of local and area support groups.

Post-adoption services

To supplement services that are provided by local departments of social services, the North Carolina Division of Social Services has contracted with the following agencies to provide post-adoption services to families of adoptive children. The agencies listed below are available to provide specialized support services to address the needs of children adopted through the foster care system and their adoptive families as well as any child who has been adopted, whether through a private, independent, or foreign adoption. For additional information, please contact the agencies directly.

Region 1
Children’s Home Society
Phone: 800-632-1400 ext. 280
Serving: Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, Swain, Transylvania, EBCI

Region 2
Children’s Home Society
Phone: 800-632-1400 ext. 280
Serving: Avery, Buncombe, Henderson, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Yancey

Region 3
Catawba County Social Services
Phone: 828-695-4428
Serving: Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Watauga, Wilkes

Region 4
Eckerd
Phone: 980-819-5047
Serving: Cabarrus, Cleveland, Gaston, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Stanly, Union

Region 5
Barium Springs Home For Children
Phone: 828-236-2877
Serving: Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Iredell, Rockingham, Rowan, Stokes, Surry, Yadkin

Region 6
Children’s Home Society
Phone: 800-632-1400 ext. 280
Serving: Alamance, Caswell, Chatham, Guilford, Orange, Person, Randolph

Region 7 & 8
Center For Child and Family Health
Phone: 855-596-5015
Serving: Anson, Cumberland, Durham, Edgecombe, Franklin, Granville, Harnett, Hoke, Johnston, Lee, Montgomery, Moore, Nash, Richmond, Scotland, Vance, Wake, Warren, Wayne, Wilson

Region 9
Children’s Home Society
Phone: 252-565-2994
Serving: Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, Duplin, New Hanover, Pender, Robeson, Sampson

Region 10
Children’s Home Society
Phone: 252-565-2994
Serving: Bertie, Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Halifax, Hertford, Martin, Northampton, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Tyrrell, Washington

Region 11
Children’s Home Society
Phone: 252-565-2994
Serving: Beaufort, Carteret, Craven, Greene, Hyde, Jones, Lenoir, Onslow, Pamlico, Pitt

Information on children

The children in foster care are from all walks of life and range from young children to young adults. Of the thousands of children in foster care, approximately half are placed in foster homes. The rest of the children live with relatives or are placed in group homes. Most will return to their birth families, but about one-third of them will not, and, once their birth parents’ rights are terminated, they will need adoptive families.

The majority of children who already need an adoptive family are school-aged children or sibling groups who need to be placed together in a family.

The North Carolina Heart Gallery is a photography exhibition of children in the North Carolina foster care system who are available for adoption and in need of adoptive homes. For more information about the NC Heart Gallery or to participate in an upcoming event, please contact the NC Kids staff by email or by phone at 877-625-4374.

Upcoming events

Please call or email us for more information about events. Phone: 877-625-4371.