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Foster parents needed: Durham teen says his ‘mom’ made all the difference

July 24, 2018

Foster care

More than 10,000 children in our state are in foster care right now, according to the Children’s Home Society of North Carolina. Finding foster parents, especially for teenagers, is a challenge for social workers in the Triangle.

Valaquez Stevons, a Durham teenager, just turned 19. He was placed in foster care as a teenager. Stevons graduated in May from Southern High School, and he says it wouldn’t have been possible without his foster mom.

“She supports me on everything, she tells me the complete and honest truth -- she keeps it real with me,” he said. “That’s all I can ask for.”

The problem is that there aren’t enough foster parents to go around. There are 307 foster children and only 83 foster homes.

That means some parents are taking in two or three children at a time.

Carole Allison has years of experience as a social worker, and she says some aspects of the job are challenging.

“It is loving a child who may or may not be with you for any amount of time,” said Allison, adding that caring for teenagers are another factor entirely. “It certainly takes a different set of skills than fostering an infant.”

For Stevons, those few years of foster car helped. He could have been on his own when he turned 18, but, instead, he is one of 24 young adults in Durham staying with foster parents until he turns 21.

Stevons is headed to college this fall with hopes of becoming a fashion designer.

“If we have someone who will do that, who will show us the right way, that could lead anyone down a good path,” he said. “To be a great person in life, someone who will help society out in life, and you’ll never know if you don’t try.”

If you’re interested in becoming a foster parent, start by seeing if you qualify.

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