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How do I become a foster parent?

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Currently there are nearly 4,000 children in foster care across the state of South Carolina with an additional need for more than 2,300 foster families so that children can remain in their home communities. If you have ever thought about participating in foster care in our state, here is some information that can help. Let’s start out with the definition of foster care and learn more about the special children who need fostering.  

What is foster care?

Foster care is the temporary care of children whose families are experiencing issues that prevent the children from remaining safely in their own home. Because they cannot safely remain in their homes and placement with a family member is not possible, these children enter into the foster care program. When a child enters foster care, they are in the legal custody of the Department of Social Services (DSS). DSS helps place these foster children in a licensed foster home or group care facility that can best meet their needs while their parents or caregivers work with DSS to remedy concerns..

While the children are separated from their home, DSS works toward returning the children to a safe home environment. If reuniting with their biological family is not possible, DSS works for the long-term safety of the children and  termination of parental rights and adoption may be necessary.

Who are foster children?

Because of their individual situations, foster children have unique strengths and needs. Some are experiencing a variety of social, emotional, and behavioral or physical difficulties because of abuse and/or neglect they experienced before entering foster care. Children in foster care are typically children of different ages and ethnicities who come from neglectful and / or abusive homes.

Foster children range in age from birth to 18 years old and most are only in foster care on a temporary basis. Foster children need nurturing family homes for the duration of their stay in foster care. Some children in foster care are waiting for adoption and are in foster homes, group homes, or treatment facilities. They need families who will give them a home lasting into adulthood. Youths remaining in foster care receive assistance to make a successful transition into adulthood.

Who are foster parents?

Foster parents are special people who recognize the unique needs of children living in a troubled family. With an investment of time, energy, love, and guidance, foster parents can make a difference in the lives of the children and families in need. Individuals or couples can be licensed as foster parents. Foster parents receive financial reimbursement to meet the basic needs of the children. Children in the legal custody of DSS may also be placed with relatives that can provide full-time care (kinship foster care), protection, and nurturing. Relatives who become foster parents may access the same services for children as non-relative foster parents.

DSS needs foster parents who can provide commitment, care, and compassion to these special children who may have faced many challenges. Foster parents provide support for birth parents who may struggle with poverty, domestic violence, substance abuse and mental health issues. DSS’s goal is to reunite the child with birth parents or relatives whenever possible and child welfare professionals depend upon foster parents to assist in this process. If the child becomes available for adoption, foster parents may apply to adopt. The child’s best interest is the primary consideration when selecting a “forever family.”

A potential foster parent can become licensed through DSS to foster children at a regular level of care or become licensed through a private agency to foster children at a therapeutic level of care.

How do I apply to be a foster parent?

In order to become a foster parent, a person must be committed and devoted to providing a safe, nurturing, and temporary home for children in care. Additional qualifications include cleared criminal background checks as well as cleared medical reports from the family physician

What are the steps to becoming a foster parent?

You can complete the initial application to become a foster parent online at https://heartfeltcalling.org/. Representatives from Heartfelt Calling will follow up with you to explain some of the additional requirements of the licensing process. You can also call Heartfelt Calling at 1-888-828-3555. Heartfelt Calling staff will complete an initial application over the phone and review some of the additional requirements of the licensing process with you.

How do I get started?

To learn more about foster care in South Carolina, visit https://dss.sc.gov/foster-care/.

 

(Data sources: http://reports.dss.sc.gov/SSRSReportServer/Pages/ReportViewer.aspx?/Foster+Care; https://dss.sc.gov/media/2642/estimated-foster-placements-need-report-jan-2021.pdf)


By ABC Quality Team on April 27, 2021