SUMMERVILLE, SC (WCBD) – There are currently over 4,000 children in the foster care system across South Carolina.
This summer, the state Department of Social Services has been hosting public information forums in four different regions of the state.
One of those forums was hosted in Summerville on Wednesday in an effort to get the word out to possible foster families across the Lowcountry.
According to the agency, last year they received about 37,000 calls regarding a child in a potentially dangerous environment.
DSS said the number of foster kids has increased over the years.
“We’ve seen an increase in children in custody over the last five years over 1000 kids have come into custody,” said Micheal Leach, State Director for Department of Social Services.
The agency said the real struggle is finding teens and sibling sets homes.
“When we get kids into care a lot of times it is a whole sibling set and they could be two and that could be two children or that could be five children. We need loving caring homes for those large groups because we want to make sure sibling are placed together,” says Leach.
To help spread this awareness, they are speaking with communities around South Carolina
Present at the forum was experienced foster parent, Cheryl Folson, who explained how she first began fostering kids in need:
“It just came to me that I wanted to be a foster parent and I thought I’d be good at fostering newborns. Two weeks later there was a baby in my home. I believe it was meant to be,” she said.
If you’d like to learn more about being a foster parent, you can find more information by clicking the link here
Over the course of 20 years, Cheryl went on to provide 20 children with homes.
“It’s been a busy time but always one at a time and every single one has been a blessing,” says Folson.
Over the years, she had developed strong maternal bonds with each child she fostered. “I’ve always said when you wake up that next morning and they’re the only one there for them, they’re your child,” she explained.
For locals thinking about opening up their own, experienced foster parents say that it’s a blessing of a lifetime.
“It’s just an incredible opportunity to be on such a wonderful journey for a beautiful child. As heartbreaking as it is for them to leave, you realize that you have played your part in their journey and that they are on the road to a wonderful life,” says Folson.
If you are interested in opening your home to a foster child, you can visit the link here.