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Hudson highlights family during visit

LUMBERTON — U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, whose congressional district includes most of Robeson County, pledged Tuesday that he will do everything he can to ensure that federal resources are made available to support local foster care, adoption, and family services and treatment programs that are working to protect children from abuse or neglect.
 
Hudson met with foster parents, social workers, Guardian Ad Litem representatives, and the judge overseeing the administration of Robeson County’s Family Treatment Court on Tuesday afternoon to learn about programs and services available in Robeson County to protect children and strengthen families. He also heard presentations from two young women, Tiffany Locklear and Jesenia Locklear, who testified to the effect the Family Treatment Court system has had on helping them resolve substance abuse issues and improve their lives.
 
Hudson, who on Tuesday also visited departments of Social Services in Richmond and Scotland counties, said that he became interested in finding out as much as possible about foster care and adoption programs when an intern in his office, Kashawn Little, made him aware of the need for more financial resources for struggling foster care and adoption programs. Little, a resident of New London and a recent graduate of North Carolina A&T State University, was removed from his family by DSS officials when he was 5 and was in foster care until he was adopted at the age of 12.
 
Little accompanied Hudson during the congressman’s visit to Robeson County.
 
“I am impressed with the organizations working together in Robeson County that are focusing on keeping children in their homes and with their families,” Hudson said. “There are federal monies available to support these kind of programs, but the question is whether they are being made available so they can be used in the best ways … . There are federal barriers that could be a problem and need to be addressed … . But in the end it is all about these children.”
 
Foster parents, and those who have adopted children who have been removed from their families for whatever reasons, told Hudson of what they referred to as “wonderful experiences.”
 
David Hester, a foster parent and pharmacist from Maxton, urged Hudson to work toward eliminating barriers that keep qualified people from becoming foster parents. For example, he noted that anyone who is an employee at the county Department of Social Services, regardless of their position and qualifications for providing child care, cannot be a foster parent.
 
“There seems not to be a lot of families wanting to get involved in foster care,” he said. “We need to eliminate barriers that keep qualified individuals from not being able to adopt … We need to encourage more families to become more involved with these children.”
 
J. Stanley Carmical, the Robeson County District Court judge who oversees administration of the county’s Family Treatment Court, told Hudson that his visit to Robeson County to talk about children and families is a precedent among elected House members.
 
“I can’t express how uplifting it is for a member of Congress to come here to Robeson County and talk about children and families,” he said. “Children and families usually take a back seat. You being here shows that this may not always be true.”
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