SCDSS Recognizes Foster Care Awareness Month
Columbia, SC – May 1, 2019 -- May marks National Foster Care Awareness Month. It provides an opportunity for the South Carolina Department of Social Services to draw attention to the need for foster parents across the state.
Children come into foster care when their parents cannot safely care for them and no other alternative for placement exists. As of May 1, there are more than 4,600 children in foster care in South Carolina and only approximately 2,700 licensed foster homes.
“Foster parents provide a safe, loving home when our children need it most, and this month, we proudly recognize the heroes -- our foster parents -- who have opened their homes and hearts to care for our state’s most vulnerable children and youth,” said DSS State Director Michael Leach.
While all children in the state’s foster care system are presently in a safe placement, more than half are placed outside of their home counties or have been separated from their siblings. This means children who already experience the trauma of separation from their parents are also being separated from their other support systems – their school, church, sports teams and everyone they know.
South Carolina needs about 1,500 additional homes so children can remain in their counties of origin, sibling groups can stay together and teens, who are hardest to place, can be cared for in the home of a loving family.
Leach, who was recently appointed by Gov. Henry McMaster to lead DSS and began service at the agency this week, said recruitment of additional foster families is a top priority. “We are committed to working with all our current foster parents and community partners to achieve our goal for additional, licensed foster families to help our children thrive. They deserve our best efforts,” Leach said.
To help raise awareness for the need for more foster parents in South Carolina, DSS has been conducting a statewide foster care recruitment campaign. As part of the campaign, the Department has partnered with All Pro Dad, an organization that promotes fatherhood and strengthening families. NFL Hall of Fame Coach Tony Dungy is co-founder and national spokesman for All Pro Dad, a current foster parent and father of seven adopted children.
Dungy visited South Carolina last month to speak to foster parents attending the SC Foster Parent Association’s Annual Training Conference. He will be featured in public service announcements and digital advertising to encourage individuals and families to take the next step to become licensed. All Pro Dad, along with DSS county and regional offices will sponsor ongoing, public recruitment events throughout the year.
Anyone interested in becoming a licensed foster parent or learning more about ways to support foster parents in your community is encouraged to visit www.scfamilies.org or call (888) 828-3555.