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Governor McMaster Signs Legislation to Strengthen Foster Care in SC

Contact: Will Batchelor
DSS Director of Media Relations

Governor McMaster Signs Legislation to Strengthen Foster Care in SC

May 11, 2022- On Wednesday, Governor Henry McMaster will hold a ceremonial bill signing for H.3509, known as the Extension of Foster Care bill. The legislation provides for an extended, voluntary foster care program when a child ages out of foster care on their 18th birthday.

SCDSS provides supports for older youth in foster care under the federal John H. Chafee Fos­ter Care Inde­pen­dence Act of 1999, which pro­vid­ed states with flex­i­ble fund­ing to help young people, ages 18 to 21, who were tran­si­tion­ing from foster care.

Extending foster care services until a youth’s 21st birthday was enacted at the federal level by the passage of The Fos­ter­ing Tran­si­tions to Suc­cess and Increas­ing Adop­tions Act of 2008, which expand­ed fund­ing to states that elect­ed to extend foster care sup­port to age 21.

Previously, South Carolina was one of just two states, along with Oklahoma, that did not include a provision in state law for this type of program. South Carolina filed the state legislation for the first time in January 2021 under the leadership of DSS State Director Michael Leach.

South Carolina is currently operating a state-run program funded with 100% state funds for youth aged 18-21 that have aged out of foster care. The Chafee/ETV program provides opportunities for young people transitioning into adulthood including funding services and supports for youth. In the current state-funded program, DSS is serving 164 as of May 1, 2022 youth who have voluntarily signed themselves back into care. Services provided to these youths include assistance with housing, transportation, education/training, case management and preparing these youth for the transition to adulthood. By adding this statute change into state law, South Carolina will be able to draw down federal Title IV-E dollars to help fund this program.

The Extension of Foster Care expansion, and obtaining the corresponding federal money available to fund this program by passage of this legislation, has been a top legislative priority of SCDSS under the leadership of State Director Michael Leach. “We are so excited about today’s signing”, said Director Leach. “Extending foster care until a youth’s 21st birthday, though this voluntary program, means invaluable added assistance for our youth as they begin to go out on their own. That support is crucial to making sure they get the strong start they need to be successful and productive adults. Today is just the beginning of their story and their future.”

Young adults who have spent time in the foster care system, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation and other national studies, are more likely to experience homelessness, are at risk for mental health issues, less likely to complete their high school diploma or GED, more likely to be incarcerated, and more likely to experience an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy. Providing these supports to youth on the front end will save taxpayers funds down the road in costs for housing, healthcare, corrections, and other costs.

For more information on foster care or the Chafee/ETV program in South Carolina, please visit



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