Welcome To Swain County

Social Services

Foster Care and Permanancy Planning

Foster care is intended to be a temporary arrangement for children, not an end in itself. The goal for every child who enters foster care is a safe, permanent home as soon as possible, whether that means reunification with the birth family, custody or guardianship with relatives or kin, or adoption. Foster parents work with the agency and with the child's family to help the child find a permanent home. If the child needs to be adopted, the foster parents may become the adopting parents.

Foster care offers a temporary home to children when their families are unable to meet their basic needs for care and protection. Usually, there is not any one reason a child comes into foster care, but a combination of factors may lead to placement, such as:

  • physical, sexual or emotional abuse
  • neglect
  • family stress caused by divorce, separation, substance abuse, or mental illness
  • illness or death of a parent
  • abandonment
  • child's behavior due to physical or emotional disability
  • parental rights have been terminated and the child is waiting for an adoptive placement

Permanency Planning aims to provide a safe, permanent home for children within 12 months of when a child is taken into custody by our agency. This plan can include reunification with the family, custody or guardianship with a relative of the child or adoption. Our agency will work with parents who have lost their children to the custody of Social Services for reasons of substance abuse and/or other causative factors. The goal of this program is to help the parents to be reunited with their children who have been in foster care or to place them with a relative. We strive to find the least restrictive placement for children.

LINKS is a program that works with youth between the ages of 14 and 21 who currently are or have been in foster care. Young adults learn budgeting, household maintenance, how to apply for and retain a job, and many other important life skills. We provide other benefits for participants such as SAT and ACT fees, graduation fees for senior students, assistance applying for college, etc.

Family Permanency
Foster care is temporary substitute care for children who cannot remain safely in their home as determined by the Court. Child placement services shall be provided to any child in the custody or placement responsibility of a County Department of Social Services. Placement of a child in foster care requires assessment of the child and family's needs and careful planning.

The placement process focuses on the whole family rather than only on the child in placement. The child, the family and the foster care providers shall be appropriately prepared for the placement prior to the physical move of the child, except in emergency removals.

Child placement needs are evaluated, arranged, maintained and supervised in licensed or Court-sanctioned placement, with services to assist in reunification or another permanent plan for the child. The agency provides services in conjunction with the community are community-based, culturally competent, child centered, and family focused.

Families for Kids goals:

  • Community-Based Family Support
  • One Coordinated Assessment
  • One Social Work Team
  • Single Stable Placement
  • One Year To A Permanent Home

Family Permanency & Child Placement Services Include:

  • Services to protect children in their own homes, strengthen families, and prevent out-of-home placement
  • Careful planning and decision making with the family about placement, when necessary
  • Assessing children's needs to ensure appropriate placement and services
  • Arranging and monitoring a placement appropriate to the child's needs
  • Involving the kinship network to provide planning, placement and other support for the child and family

Family Permanency & Child Placement Services Continued

  • Developing and arranging community-based services to support the child and family
  • Collaborating with other community service providers working with the family to ensure continuity of services and to prevent duplication of services
  • Referring the child and family to needed services, including clinical treatment
  • Providing treatment services, as appropriate
  • Preparing the child, the child's family, and the foster family for separation and placement, including negotiating and preparing visitation agreements
  • Assessing family strengths and needs to determine the appropriate plan for service
  • Providing ongoing risk assessment to determine risk to the child and to guide the case planning process
  • Working with the family to develop and implement the Family Services Case Plan
  • Monitoring and updating the Family Services Case Plan with the family
  • Providing case management
  • Concurrent permanency planning with the family to develop alternative options to provide a permanent home for a child should reunification fai
  • Helping the family meet Family Services Case Plan objectives by providing information, instruction, guidance and mentoring on parenting skills
  • Providing counseling to the child and family to help the child and family cope with the grief resulting from the separation and placement
  • Arranging medical examinations and other services for the child
  • Supervising foster care facility to ensure that the child receives proper care during placement

Family Permanency & Child Placement Services Continued

  • Maintaining contact with the family and others significant to the case
  • Preparing for and participating in court proceedings
  • Maintaining a close working relationship with the agency attorney for guidance in the legal process
  • Providing transportation for children in foster care when needed and not otherwise available, including visits with parents, siblings, and relatives
  • Providing independent living services to assist older youth in learning life skills necessary to make a successful transition from foster care to living on his or her own
  • Ensuring that foster care placements across state lines are in compliance with the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children
  • Recruiting, developing and supervising foster care families and child care facilities
  • Recruiting and assessing relatives and other kin as potential caregivers
  • Assessing and periodically reassessing foster care homes and facilities to determine if the home or facility meets the needs of the children it serves
  • Providing consultation, technical assistance, and training to assist foster families and foster care facilities to expand and improve the quality of care provided
  • Involving foster parents in the planning and decision making for children in foster care
  • Facilitating foster/adopt options for children and preparing foster/adoptive parents
  • Preparing children for adoptive placements and maintaining life books
  • Maintaining the foster care case record and thorough documentation of case activities.
  • Periodically reviewing the Family Services Case Plan
  • Preparing for and facilitating Permanency Planning Action Team meetings


Department of Social Services
80 Academy Street
Bryson City, NC 28713

Mailing Address
PO Box 610
Bryson City, NC 28713


Sheila Sutton, Director
Phone 828-488-6921
Fax 828-488-8271

Office Hours