DSS data shows the need for foster families in SC, especially in Greenville Co.
GREENVILLE, SC (WSPA) – There are nearly 4,000 children in South Carolina who are in foster care, more than 500 of them in Greenville County. A county that nearly leads the need for foster-like placements in the state.
The Sampson family began fostering children eight years ago. They provided shelter for many children over those years.
“It became apparent as we were advocating for them that they needed an attorney to be part of a family,” said Heidi Sampson, a licensed adoptive parent in Laurens County.
Two of them, the Sampson family ended up adopting.
“Once you see the kids, interact with them and get to know them, it’s hard to see you doing anything else,” Heidi’s husband Jonathon Sampson told 7NEWS.
Right now, South Carolina needs more homes like the one the Sampsons are providing. State data shows just over 3,900 children are in foster care, including 13.7 percent (546) in Greenville County. In Spartanburg County, there are just over 200. In Laurens County, just under 100.
People from the South Carolina Department of Social Services told 7NEWS that once they have exhausted all other efforts, they have to get creative with temporarily housing these children.
“There have been circumstances where children have had to spend the night in the office with our staff while we continue the search,” Dawn Barton, director of duty management at DSS, told 7NEWS.
Dawn Barton of DSS told us the need has always been there. But said it only got stronger following federal legislation, prompting agencies to work harder to find kinship providers. Also, the transition from group care settings to more traditional family placement.
Kaley Lindquist with Fostering Great Ideas recruits and supports foster families statewide. She told us that the solution is not quite simple.
“We need homes that will welcome siblings, that will welcome teenagers with enthusiasm, and provide those children with the resources, support and encouragement they need,” said Kaley Lindquist of Fostering Great Ideas.
Foster parents like Andrea Huerta in upstate said foster care can be difficult, but it’s more rewarding than anything.
“Even though you may not think you can say goodbye, this child is still in the system. They always need a family, they always need someone to accompany them,” said Andrea Huerta.
As for the Sampson family and the child they adopt, they said he was more than just a statistic.
“It’s 4,000 faces, it’s 4,000 names, it’s 4,000 kids who just want a safe place to be a kid,” Sampson told us.
Lindquist told 7NEWS that the majority of these children end up in foster care following a case of neglect with their birth family. She also said there are short and long term options for foster care.
Also, if you are not ready to become a foster parent, there are other ways to help.
Lindquist said you can start with mentoring or tutoring, also supporting another host family, whether through donations of your time, talent or resources.
Jonathon Sampson told us that the licensing process can take three to six months.
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