Family Engagement Services

What are Family Engagement Services?

Family Engagement Services is a partnering program that works with families that are involved with DSS. It is a program that works toward what is best for children to make it easier for the people who love them to come together and help DSS develop a plan for their care.  Family Group Conferencing is the main service we provide to client families. When a family is referred for our services, a coordinator is assigned to help them.

The coordinator does not work for DSS and does not take sides. They help everyone talk honestly and focus on the children. They help the family develop the best plan for their children’s safety and care.

How it works

 A Family Group Conference can be held within a few weeks of a child coming into care. It’s also available for  families whose children have been in care for some time and for families whose children are at risk of entering the state’s custody.  

The coordinator meets with the family to learn about them and to make a list of people to invite to the family conference: family, friends, and other supporters. A date, time, and place are set for the meeting and the coordinator will contact the people to be invited. The coordinator will review the purpose and goals of the meeting with everyone they invite and a Family Plan is made. A follow-up meeting can be held at a later time.

Family Engagement Services Coordinators work hard to keep children from entering foster care or from staying in foster care. Families like this service and share that:

  • Families can be more creative about their needs and solutions
  • Having a say helps families with a better outcome
  • Everyone benefits from honest sharing of information
  • Children and families remain connected or reconnect sooner
  • Children are able to remain in their home or return to their home, neighborhood and schools sooner

 Anyone, including family members, Guardians Ad Litem, counselors, school staff, etc. that knows of a family with children in foster care may suggest a referral for a Family Group Conference (FGC). Simply contact the DSS service worker and request a referral or contact the National Youth Advocate Program at 1-800-686-8958.

For more information on Family Group Conferencing click here, or call the National Youth Advocate Program at 1-800-686-8958. 


Click here to learn more about National Family Reunification Month.

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.