DURHAM, N.C. – Building on its commitment to North Carolina’s long-term health and well-being, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) has invested more than $4.3 million in partnerships, programs and initiatives to support children, youth and families involved with the child welfare system. Since 2019, these investments have helped to increase the number of available foster families, address the mental health needs of children, strengthen families across the state and provide opportunities for youth transitioning out of foster care.
“Supporting the health and well-being of North Carolina means advocating for our most vulnerable, including children, youth and families involved in the child welfare system,” said Fran Gary, Blue Cross NC Senior Vice President for Government Markets. “Standing alongside our partners across North Carolina, we are building on local knowledge and solutions to meet the needs in our communities and creating impact that will last generations.”
About 31,000 children in North Carolina are in foster care, receiving adoption assistance, or are former foster youth under age 26. With Blue Cross NC’s deep relationships in communities across the state, leaders have listened to the needs expressed by families, local departments of social services, providers and organizations serving the population. The investments made in 49 organizations and representing work in every county respond to needs identified in North Carolina communities and increased the reach of homegrown solutions making a difference for children and families.
“Thompson Child & Family Focus highly values our relationship with Blue Cross NC,” said Jennifer Stout, Operations Director. “We appreciate the support and have been able to utilize the funds provided to more deeply reach out to families considering becoming foster parents. The need to impact people is truly important. Everyone needs to know how much foster parents are needed in North Carolina. Even if someone is unable to become a foster parent, they can still support a foster family in so many ways. Relationships like the one that Blue Cross NC and Thompson has is critical to helping stand in the gap in helping children and families become successful.”
Blue Cross NC’s investments have expanded the reach of local organizations like SaySo, a statewide association of youth who are or have been in foster care, group homes or mental health placements. Blue Cross NC invested in SaySo’s Flex Fund, which offers housing assistance to youth transitioning out of foster care.
“Youth transitioning from living in foster care are often navigating adulthood without the support to help them thrive,” said Carmelita Coleman, SaySo director. “At SaySo, we empower youth and provide opportunities that set them up for success in adulthood. Through collaborative efforts with Blue Cross NC, we are helping address needs like housing assistance that is critical to the well-being of young adults on the path to independence.”
Examples of Blue Cross NC Investments Meeting NC Needs
- Foster Family Recruitment and Support: Data collected by Foster Care Capacity shows a 20% decrease in licensed foster families in North Carolina between 2020 and 2022. To help reverse this trend, Blue Cross NC has partnered with Thompson’s Child & Family Focus, Seven Homes, KidsPeace and Children’s Home Society of North Carolina to recruit and license foster families for as many as 250 children across the state.
- Mental Health Services and Education: Children and youth involved in the child welfare system often experience complex trauma and multiple adverse childhood experiences that require ongoing care. Children and youth in foster care use mental health services at a rate 15 to 20 times greater than that of the general child population. Blue Cross NC partnered with organizations to provide mental health training, services and education. For example, Blue Cross NC worked with Agape NC to provide Trauma Based Relational Intervention Training, giving foster families and local DSS practical tools to see the “whole child” in their care and help that child reach his highest potential.
- Strengthening Families: Keeping children with their families and reuniting children in care with their families are goals of the child welfare system. To meet those goals, parents and families need access to resources that build skills and capacity, and Blue Cross NC has invested in a number of programs to strengthen families across the state. Blue Cross NC partnered with Thompson Child & Family Focus to launch an evidence-based model of family trauma treatment services in Cumberland County for families in communities with high percentages of individuals in the child welfare system.
- Opportunities for Youth Exiting Foster Care: Data from the Annie Casey Foundation shows that nearly one-third of former North Carolina foster care youth did not have stable housing by age 21. Blue Cross NC has partnered with a number of organizations, including LIFE Skills Foundation and Youth Villages, to provide youth transitioning out of foster care with safe places to live, mental health support and assistance with developing financial literacy skills.
Learn more about Blue Cross NC’s work to support children and families in the foster care system at https://www.bluecrossnc.com/foster-care-initiative.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina:
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC), the leading not-for-profit health plan in North Carolina, is committed to making health care more affordable, easier to navigate and accessible for all. Since 1933, the health insurer has created programs and initiatives to provide North Carolinians the opportunity to be healthy. Blue Cross NC serves its customers and communities of more than 4.2 million members, including approximately 1.1 million on behalf of other Blue Plans. Blue Cross NC is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Visit Blue Cross NC online at www.bluecrossnc.com. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.