More Foster Families Needed In Upstate
Information meetings set throughout region in coming weeks for those interested in becoming foster parents.
An effort is underway to create more foster families in the Upstate.
According to Betsy Gray-Manning, Recruiter with the South Carolina Youth Advocate Program (SCYAP), there are currently 1,200 children in DSS foster care across 10 counties of the Upstate.
However, there are less than 500 licensed resource foster homes in those same ten counties, she said.
“There’s a real deficit,” Gray-Manning said.
The lack of available foster homes mean children in the foster car system are often moved around and moved away from their hometowns.
“That decreases the number of children who remain in their communities and it discontinues their family connections if they have to be moved to another county,” Gray-Manning said. “It also delays permanence for the children.
The lack of foster homes often means children are pulled from their home schools and places of worship.
SCYAP has contracted with DSS to recruit and license additional homes to shore up this gap.
Under this contract, SCYAP is responsible for recruiting additional homes, re-licensing existing homes and placement options for DSS when foster care placement is necessary.
“When DSS removes a child from a home due to safety concerns, they call us and we present them with a list of three viable foster resource homes,” Gray-Manning said. “DSS makes the final determination of where the child will be placed. We try to match the child to the best foster home that we can.”
SCYAP will host a series of informational meetings around the Upstate over the next few months for those that are interested in become foster resource families.
In Pickens County, an informational meeting will be held 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 13 at the Hampton Memorial Library in Easley
In Greenville County, the meeting will be held 6 to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 11 at the SCYAP’s Main Office, 300 Executive Center Drive, Suite 100.
In Anderson County, the meeting will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 7 at the Anderson Westside Library, 1100 W. Franklin St in Anderson, .
In Oconee County, the meeting will be held from 6-7:30 p.m. July 31 at New Hope Baptist Church, 4010 Keowee School Road,
SCYAP works with the foster family applicants every step of the way.
“That’s something we do that’s really unique,” Gray-Manning said. “We provided support to foster resource families through a variety of means.”
Those resources include a 24-hour crisis line manned by trained mental health professionals, license coordination and support by foster care professionals, as well as trainings in collaboration with the SC Foster Parent Association.
“We have license coordinators to work with the foster families as soon as we get their application,” Gray-Manning said. “They work with them with DHEC and when the fire marshal comes to inspect their home.”
Foster families must undergo 14 hours of training to get their certification, as well as continuing hours to keep their certifications up, she said.
“We work in collaboration with the SC Foster Parent Association to ensure they get the training needed to get their certification as a foster parent.”
Applications to become foster parents will be available at the information meetings, Gray-Manning said.
After receiving the application, a coordinator will come to the applicants’ home to give an orientation, she said.
“Step one is coming to the information meeting,” Gray-Manning said. “It kind of begins there.”
SCYAP hopes to not only license the 700 foster families needed to shore the gap, but many more than that.
“We’re looking for a good mix of families,” Gray-Manning said. “What we would like to have is a home for each child that enters foster care.”