CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – COVID-19 is creating new challenges for families in kinship care.

Kinship families step in when children are taken from their homes so they can live with a close friend or relative, rather than enter the foster care system. Seventy-four thousand children in the state of South Carolina live in kinship care.

HALOS is a local non-profit in the tri-county area working to provide resources to those families in need. For some, the pandemic is creating even bigger financial problems.

Jennifer Richard is the organization’s Director of Philanthropy. She said when a child is placed with a foster family, the family receives a stipend. When a child is instead placed with a relative or family friend, that’s not always the case.

“HALOS fills that gap. And we provide resources and referrals to all kinds of community partners who provide services to families in need,” Richard said. “And we also have an intensive case management program for families who have more complex needs.”

Richard said in April, HALOS provided more than 30-thousand dollars in financial assistance to kinship families in need. She also noted studies show that children placed into kinship care have half the risk of social and behavioral issues.

“They retain community ties. They retain familial ties,” Richard said. “They’re less likely to be separated from siblings because of course grandma’s more likely to take in all her grandchildren and not just one or two. They are less likely to change schools.”

Richard said many families here in the tri-county region are unaware of the resources HALOS can provide to their kinship family and so now the organization is working to spread awareness during this trying time.

If you’re a kinship family in need of resources, or someone looking to donate and support the organization’s efforts, click here.