Since the pandemic, fewer families have been signing up to become foster parents. In North Carolina, the number of licensed foster homes dropped by 23% in 2022. In Jackson County and others across the state, children are sleeping at department of social services offices with nowhere else to go. Advocates say a combination of new policies and additional funding are needed to help families.
In counties west of Asheville, child care can be difficult to find. For parents in Cherokee, Clay, Graham and Jackson Counties, the task became nearly impossible in mid-October when Southwestern Child Development Commission shuttered seven centers leaving 300 children without care.