Children & Family Services

The Children and Family Services Section of Gaston Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) provides services necessary for the protection and well being of children and their families, including:


Adoption services are provided to children in the custody of Gaston Health and Human Services (HHS). These services include: legal work, emotional preparation of children for adoption, placements in approved homes and the supervision of the placements. Adoption information requests may be sent by email or by calling 704-862-7530.

Children & Family Services Intake

Children and Family Services Intake includes assessing abuse, neglect and dependency reports and making referrals for appropriate services within HHS and for services from other agencies. Child Abuse Hotline: 704-862-7555.

Community Social Work Support Assistance

Community Social Work Support Assistance are services provided in conjunction with either a Case Planning/Case Management or Foster Care case. These services may include teaching and providing assistance with managing household budgets, planning nutritious meals, teaching child rearing practices, providing supportive help in the area of good health practices, providing limited transportation for medical or therapy appointments, provide support to the social work staff, and monitoring visitation.

Confidential Intermediary

Confidential Intermediary ("CI") services are offered by the Department for persons (18 years of age and older) involved in adoptions which took place in North Carolina. This would include the adoptee, birth parents, biological/half siblings, and family members of deceased biological parents/adoptees. The purpose is to provide a confidential intermediary to locate sought-after relatives. The cost of this program is $250 for an in-house record review and search for the person for up to 90 days. After 90 days, the applicant can request additional services at the cost of $75 per hour not to exceed $250.

Requests can be sent to Rachel McDowell by email.

Foster Care for Children

Foster Care for Children is a service designed to meet the needs of children placed in the custody of the Department of Social Services when they have to be separated from their families by court because of abuse, neglect or dependency.

Foster Care Licensure

Foster Care Licensure is the recruitment, training, licensing and supervision of foster parents. The requirements to be a foster parent include but are not limited to: both parents must attend 30 hours of training, have a criminal record check with finger printing completed, have a home study completed, have at least one source of income sufficient to support their family, undergo a medical examination, and have a tuberculosis (TB) test.

For information about becoming a foster parent, requests can be sent by email or by calling 704-862-7530.

In-Home Services

In-Home Services for families are provided to support families in crisis with risks in the home. Social workers work with the family to provide in-home case management before taking custody to reduce in-home risks.

LINKS (Independent Living Program)

LINKS, formerly known as the Independent Living Program, is a program designed to help children ages 16 to 21 who are in the custody of HHS or have been in the custody of HHS to develop skills they need to live on their own. Most of these juveniles will not return home but move from HHS placement to their own home. Children participate in monthly programs and activities to help with skill building and decision making. Children 14 and 15 years old have the opportunity to participate in some of the programs as well.

Information about the program can be requested from Paula Brinkley by email.

Extended Foster Care 18 to 21 Program

Extended Foster Care 18 to 21 Program - An individual who has reached 18 years of age but is not 21 years of age, and was in foster care upon his/her 18th birthday, may receive foster care services.

Post Adoption Services

Post Adoption Services concentrate on strengthening and supporting families who have decided to build their family through adoption. Post Adoption Services assist adoptive parents with honoring their child's past and reacting to disruptive behaviors in a positive way. Services consist of referrals to family, individual and group support; psychological consultations; and advocacy. Post Adoption Services are offered as requested by the adoptive family.

Adoption subsidy is financial assistance for adoptive children with special needs. Children who qualify are eligible to receive adoption subsidy until their 18th birthday or sooner if the parent is no longer financially responsible. Vendor payments offer financial assistance for services or treatments for special needs which were present prior to the time of the child's adoption. The vendor payments must relate to a pre-existing physical, emotional or psychological handicapping condition and must be at the standard rate in the child's community as determined by Gaston County Department of Health and Human Services. 

In addition, the pre-existing condition cannot be covered by private health care insurance or Medicaid. Vendor payments may be granted up to a maximum of $2,400 per state fiscal year for any combination of medical and/or non-medical services or treatment not covered by any medical insurance program. Vendor payments are not meant to pay for the ordinary expenses of raising a child such as clothes, summer camp, child care, orthodontics and other such expenses, unless those expenses are explicitly intended to treat or serve pre-existing emotional, physical, or psychological handicapping conditions.

For any questions regarding all post adoption services, contact Rachel McDowell at 704-862-7530 or by email. Each request will be reviewed on a case by case basis. Vendor Payment Request Form (PDF).

Protective Services for Children

Protective Services for Children include the investigation of complaints for child neglect, abuse or dependency and the provision of services to protect children at risk. Child Abuse Hotline: 704-862-7555.