DSS: 1,500 new foster families needed throughout South Carolina

DSS says 300 families are needed in Lexington and Richland Counties

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) — A growing number of children across the Midlands and throughout South Carolina are in need of foster homes.

The Department of Social Services (DSS) estimates there are 1,500 foster families needed across the state.

Some foster parents said it’s rewarding to open their doors to foster children and give them a stable family environment.

Over the past few years, Lee Fletcher has opened his doors to give dozens of children a stable roof over their head.

“For me it was just realizing that there were kids that needed a home. When I got to know them, these were kids that I could relate to,” said Fletcher, who is also the head of the Richland County Foster Parent Association. 

DSS says they need 300 foster families in Lexington and Richland Counties alone.

With the growing number of children needing services coupled with a smaller supply of families, some DSS agents say they have to make difficult decisions.

“When we don’t have families that are available here within the county or in the area, we have to place children outside of their county. That makes it difficult for family visits, for them to continue activities they’ve been involved in, and so we certainly want to recruit for families that we can have in the Midlands,” said Jacqueline Lowe, the Director of Foster Family Licensing for DSS.

Some say developing trust and showing compassion with foster children helps them thrive.

“You want them to be productive members of society. You don’t want them to lapse out of what they came out of. It gives them structure, and that is really what they need,” said Pat Sullivan of the Midland’s Foundation for Foster Children.

Looking back on what he’s been able to do for foster children over the years, Fletcher says each experience is equally rewarding.

“My feathers would get ruffled when somebody would say, ‘well you’re a foster parent, good for you’ and one day I realized that it has been good for me, that I have grown and that I have learned a lot from the kids that have come through my house,” Fletcher said.

DSS says foster parents could accommodate up to five foster children at one time depending on how many rooms they would have available in their home. 

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