Dept. of Social Services looking for relatives to foster kids in the state

Source: Live 5
Published: May. 4, 2022 at 4:57 AM EDT|Updated: May. 4, 2022 at 10:24 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Governor Henry McMaster has declared May foster care awareness month.

This year’s theme is “Relative and Kin Connections: Keeping Families Strong.”

The South Carolina Department of Social Services says foster care awareness month is about recognizing foster parents and service providers and calling on others to join their mission.

Dawn Barton, with the department, says their first choice is to place children with relatives because it’s proven that the kids have an overall better outcome.

“When we can keep them with those who they already have connections with, it reduces their trauma. They have better permanent outcomes, they do better in school overall, even though their family life has been disrupted.”

Over the last several years, DSS has been making relative placement a priority. Right now, 20% of the children and youth in the state’s foster care system are with family members they are familiar with.

The department often finds it challenging to get family members to take on the responsibility specifically for teens in the system. Barton says finances and being able to care for complex needs are often the reasons relatives shy away from the opportunity.

As of several years ago, DSS has worked to make the process easier for relatives taking on this role. By providing provisional licensing, meaning from day one they don’t have to go through the whole process at once, they are able to take the child or children in as soon as possible.

Barton says those who step up to foster are guided by different programs and assistance the department has access to. They are always looking for people to foster their youth but especially teens and sibling pairs.

For more foster information with the South Carolina Department of Social Services click here.

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