The Kinship Caregiver's Role

When a child is placed with you through SCDSS, you become an important member of the decision-making team. What you know and see can help everyone meet the child’s needs and keep the child safe.

In your role as the kinship caregiver, you are responsible for:

  • Meeting the child’s basic emotional, financial, educational, physical and medical needs
  • Making sure the child keeps positive connections to their friends, family and community
  • Attending meetings and court appearances (when applicable)
  • Taking the child to medical, school and counseling appointments
  • Working with the child’s parents, which may include a parent who does not have custody of the child
  • Helping with visitation between the child, parents and sibling

Parents, visitation and keeping family connections

SCDSS works to strengthen relationships between children and their parents and to keep siblings together as much as possible, either by placing brothers and sisters in the same home or through regular visitation. During the child’s time in your care, you should work with parents to keep the family connected, too—unless that’s prohibited by a court order.

In most formal kinship care arrangements, children have scheduled visitation with parents and other family members. Each case is different but as long as it is safe and appropriate, children should visit with their parents as often as possible. You should talk with your case manager about the visitation plan and if there are restrictions:

  • Follow the requirements outlined by your case manager for how visits should be supervised and how often visits should happen.
  • In certain cases, the Family Court will make visitation plans that must be followed.

Visitation in kinship care may feel awkward because of the change in your relationship with the child and the parents:

  • It is important to establish and maintain healthy boundaries.
  • You must follow the visitation plan even if it feels difficult.
  • Talk with your case manager about what’s required and what problems you anticipate or encounter with visits.

It’s beneficial for the child when you have a positive relationship with their parents. SCDSS also encourages kinship caregivers to provide emotional support and guidance to parents and model good parenting. Honest, open and frequent communication with the child’s parent is encouraged. Also, remember that communication is part of a kinship caregiver’s responsibilities. You will need a parent’s permission for any medical procedures or surgeries.


When SCDSS is involved, kinship caregivers must, generally, keep information they learn about the child and the child’s family private, only sharing information when it is necessary to meet the child’s needs. You can give information about the needs and behaviors of the child to doctors, counselors, teachers and other providers when the child is getting services to meet medical, educational, mental or social needs.

If you’re not sure whether you are allowed to share certain information, you can contact your case manager, their supervisor or the Kinship Care Coordinator for your region. Click here for regional contact information. 

Emergency situations

Emergencies can happen at any time. In an emergency:

  • First, call 9-1-1 or seek out emergency care if the child’s health or safety is in danger.
  • Next, if you’re working with SCDSS, let your case manager know what’s going as soon as possible. Between 8:30am and 5:00pm, Monday through Friday, you can call your local county office.
  • For after-hours emergencies (including weekends, holidays or during bad weather) each county has a procedure that should be followed. Please use your emergency contact.
  • You must also let parents know about any serious illness, accident or injury.

If SCDSS is involved with the child, you should get emergency contact information from your case manager.


"People tell me I’m a saint for taking her in. I’m not a saint. I’m just a person caring for her family.” -Sarah Walker, who provides kinship care for a niece

Child Welfare Services Transformation

Best Outcomes for Children and Families

Do you have a complaint regarding services being provided to a child by a state agency? Please submit your complaint by phone (1-800-206-1957) or an electronic submission form here with the South Carolina Department of Children's Advocacy.