The agency wants to put 50 percent more children who are in foster care back into their original home or into a adoptive home by June of next year. (WRDW-TV / Aug. 2, 2011)
News 12 at 6 o'clock / Aug. 2, 2011
AIKEN, S.C. -- It is tough to see kids put into the foster care system and then stay there for years. The South Carolina Department of Social Services agrees.
In the next year, DSS will be trying to place more kids in permanent homes.
The agency wants to put 50 percent more children who are in foster care back into their original home or into a adoptive home by June of next year.
Although this may sound like a great plan, some people who work with kids in the system have concerns.
Peggy Ford, executive director of Children's Place in Aiken, has been working for 21 years to provide help to children and families healing from abuse and neglect.
She was happy to hear about social services' new goal.
"My first thought was, I was very excited, I don't believe that children should linger in foster care, that is a limbo state," Ford said.
But the more she thought about it, the more concerned she became.
"Second thought was, oh my goodness what about the negative unintended results? Could this be in order to achieve a certain number?" Ford said.
Ford has seen countless cases of children taken out of the system before a good home was really ready.
"This mother kept calling and telling me she had nothing for the children coming to her out of care, no food, no bedding," she said.
Ford says abused children who are not properly cared for at a young age are more likely to have problems later in life.
"If they push them out early, it might save DSS funding, but it is not necessarily going save society's money," Ford said.
She just hopes the kids don't become numbers.
"At the core of all of this is how do we protect our children and how are we going to make our children safe, and that is more than a quota," Ford said.
Representatives from DSS say the goals are not about saving money. They say it is about putting kids who have been in the system for 17 months or longer into permanent and loving homes.
DSS is going to keep track of its new goal. From this point on, each month, every county has a clear goal they want to meet.
Right now it is unclear what would happen if a county does not meet that number.