North Carolina foster care and adoption guidelines

North Carolina Department 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

On this page:

Contact information

North Carolina Division of Health and Human Services

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

Para información en Español, contacte:

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

Alamance County through Cumberland County
Shirley Williams

Currituck County through Jackson County
Britt Cloudsdale

Johnston County through Polk County
Kerri Shiflett

Randolph County through Yancey County
Mary Mackins

For questions about the Heart Gallery
Britt Cloudsdale

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

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 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

Crossnore School & Children's Home
Winston-Salem campus:  1001 Reynolda Road, Winston-Salem, NC 27104 / 827 Wiley Brown Road, Franklin, NC 28734; 336-721-7600
Crossnore campus: 100 DAR Drive, Crossnore, NC 28616; 828-733-4305
Counties served: All counties

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: 910-646-3038
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
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

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 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 agencies to provide post-adoption services to families of adoptive children.

See a list of agencies that provide specialized support services (73 KB PDF) 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.

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 for more information about events: 877-625-4371.