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.
This month, we recognize individuals and families who have opened their homes and hearts to care for our state’s most vulnerable children by becoming foster parents. Children come into foster care when their parents cannot safely care for them and no other alternatives exist. Foster parents provide a safe, loving home when our children need it most.
As of May 1, there are more than 4,500 children in foster care in South Carolina, and the state needs about 1,600 more quality homes to care for all of our children.
Because of the shortage, more than half of the children who come into care have to be placed outside their home counties. This means children who already experience the trauma of being separated from their parents are also being separated from all of their other support systems – their school, church, sports teams and everyone they know.
“These children want to grow up with their brothers and sisters,” DSS Director Susan Alford said. “They want to stay close to their friends, their schools, their places of worship and all other institutions that have meaning to them. They deserve our best efforts to improve their health, safety and well-being as they strive to become loving, healthy adults.”
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, to recruit new families and also celebrate current foster families. NFL Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy is the national spokesman for All Pro Dad and is the father of seven adopted children. He will be featured in public service announcements, digital advertising and billboards to encourage families to take the next step and learn more about fostering. All Pro Dad also is sponsoring several large-scale public events later this year.
“I believe that South Carolinians are generous people and view our children as our most valuable resource,” Alford said. “If you are able, please consider opening your home to become a foster parent or find ways to support foster parents in your community.”
For more information, visit www.scfamilies.org or call (888) 828-3555.