RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Foster care advocates told CBS 17 there are more than 10,250 North Carolina children in the foster care system.  

Many are still waiting for homes and new placements. 

“Since COVID hit, we’ve lost about 23 percent of our foster homes,” said Amber Baum, a foster parent recruiter for Pinnacle Family Services. “A lot of parents didn’t want new children coming into the home.”

Baum said there are now around 7,500 licensed foster homes for kids to go to. That’s about a 3,000 home deficit for children in need. 

“It has come to having DCS offices operate also as a temporary housing facility until they can find a proper home for the child,” Baum explained. 

Pinnacle Family services is one of the many groups trying to find homes for children.

Baum told CBS 17 they get about six to seven referrals a day, but because of the shortage of foster homes, they can only place about one child a week.

“These children are already traumatized from what they’ve experienced. And now this is an additional trauma and instability that they do not need, when foster children are most in need of stability,” she added.

Baum said one of the biggest needs in the foster care system is for kids who need extra attention, which makes their search even more difficult. 

“Therapeutic children [are] children that have higher a little bit higher behavioral needs. Maybe they have a diagnosis of ADHD or something like that that need a little bit more assistance,” she explained.

After a decade of social work, Baum said she’s never seen this kind of shortage before.

She hopes families realize they can change lives by opening their homes and their hearts.

“The love these children need and the love they give back is its… It’s amazing,” Baum said. “I would say the biggest thing you could get from this is just a full heart.”

Pinnacle Family Services hosts information sessions every second Monday of the month.