Few foster care options for kids with extreme mental health issues

State officials have a new plan for an aspect of foster care that became more of a challenge for the Wilkes Department of Social Services in 2020.

The focus is on children with high-intensity behavioral health issues needing foster care, said Wilkes DSS Director John Blevins during the Jan. 19 Wilkes County commissioners meeting.

Blevins said usual individual or group foster homes aren’t an option for them due to their behavioral health needs and there are far too few specialized care options they need, so Wilkes DSS ends up housing them in local motels for days or sometimes weeks at a time.

Two social workers at a time, working in shifts spend nights with them in motels. Most of the youths can’t go to school so they usually spend daytime hours watching TV in a Wilkes DSS conference room while placement efforts are underway. Social workers are still with them.

Blevins said Wilkes DSS social workers spent 61 nights …

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