Foster Care

How to Become a Foster Parent in South Carolina

Without amazing foster parents, children in care wouldn’t have the love they need. Here’s how to become a foster parent in South Carolina.

There are just over 3,600 children in foster care throughout the state of South Carolina.

Without amazing foster parents, children in care wouldn’t have the love and care they need to build a bright future.

If you want to make a difference in your community and state, becoming a foster parent in South Carolina is a great place to start. There is a tremendous need for foster parents right here at home.

But how does it work? Who is qualified to be a foster parent?

Here’s how to become a foster parent in South Carolina.

Who Can Become a Foster Parent in South Carolina?

The truth is that almost anyone can be a foster parent in South Carolina! 

There aren’t restrictions based on your line of work, whether you are single, or any other traits.

However, there are some basic requirements for the state of South Carolina that you’ll need to meet to become a foster parent.

South Carolina Foster Parent Requirements

The foster parent requirements for the state of South Carolina are:

  • Depending on the type of foster care, you must be at least 18-21 years old
  • If you are married, you must be married for at least one year and complete a Prepare and Enrich marriage survey
  • You must have a home that meets the Home and Adoptive Home Regulations of South Carolina 
  • You must have a home that has enough space for a child in care and their possessions 
  • You must show the ability to provide a safe and stable home for a child in care
  • You must have enough income to care for a child 
  • You must be in good health with clear medical reports
  • You must clear criminal background checks in the state

If you meet all of these requirements, you can start the process of becoming a foster parent in South Carolina.

Steps to Become a Foster Parent in South Carolina

Ready to get started?

Here are the next steps you’ll need to take to continue your journey.

Starting the Application Process

Becoming a foster parent in South Carolina starts with filling out an application — this is where there are checks to make sure that you meet the requirements listed above. 

There are two paths you can take from here:

  1. You can find the proper form yourself and fill it out. On the South Carolina Department of Social Services website, there is an application form you can use. 
  2. You can work with an organization in your area that can help you get the process started and answer any questions you might have. This is the step we recommend for individuals who have never fostered before. 

Mentor Foster Care, a part of the Sevita family, help potential foster parents go through the application process and become foster parents in South Carolina. Think of this like custom support just for you that helps address any concerns or questions you may have along the way.

Completing a Preparation Course

In South Carolina, you must complete 15 hours of preservice sessions to become a fully licensed foster parent and 32 hours to become a licensed therapeutic foster parent.

  • Part of the sessions are held by the SC Foster Parent Association.
  • They teach people the role of foster parents and other allies in the child welfare system.
  • They also cover the requirements and responsibilities associated with caring for children in care.

Participating in the Home Study Assessment

To become a foster parent in South Carolina, you’ll need to have a home study done. 

  • This process looks at the safety and suitability of your home for the well-being of a child in care.
  • It includes talks about family dynamics, lifestyle, and the motivations behind the desire to become a foster parent. 

This step serves not only as a requirement but also as an opportunity for you to reflect more deeply on your decision to become a foster parent.

The Matching Process

The matching process takes into account the steps you went through and the needs of the child in care so the best match can be made for everyone.

Understanding the Responsibilities of Foster Parents in South Carolina

Becoming a foster parent is a major responsibility — one you should be prepared for.

Here’s what you need to know. 

Providing a Safe and Nurturing Environment

A safe and nurturing space for a child in care is the most important part of being a foster parent.

  • A child in care may be coping with trauma and neglect, so the stability provided at home helps them build a brighter future.
  • You’ll need to provide shelter and nutrition, along with giving them a chance to take part in hobbies or interests of their choice.
  • In South Carolina specifically, you’ll need enough bedrooms and beds or cribs for every child in care.
  • Children in care over the age of four in South Carolina cannot share bedrooms with a child of the opposite gender. 

Foster parents play a major role in creating a stable and routine life for kids, giving them a change from the challenges they may have faced before.

Addressing Emotional Needs

Foster parents have an important role in a child’s life — one of the biggest parts of it is understanding how kids in their care feel. 

  • It's crucial to make sure children in care feel safe, loved, and like they belong in the family.
  • They might need more time and support to handle their emotions, and that's where extra patience can help them come along.
  • Also, for some children, therapeutic foster care will be necessary. This is to help a child in care through different behavioral or emotional challenges and build toward the bright future they deserve. 

Solving Educational Needs

Kids in care also need to go to school — just like any other child!

  • Foster parents play a big part in helping kids in care with their education.
  • They work with teachers and other experts to make sure these kids get what they need and overcome any school challenges.

Relationship Building

Creating and setting the example of positive relationships is a big part of being a foster parent. 

  • Healthy relationships are more than the bond between the foster parent and the child.
  • Relationship-building skills also involve birth parents when appropriate.
  • Foster parents help restore the sense of trust and safety that children in care need to have a healthy future.

Advocating for Your Child 

Foster parents are required to act as champions for children in their care.

  • This may involve participating in reviews and court hearings or providing insights into the child's well-being and development.
  • Advocacy also means considering the child's perspective, making sure they are acknowledged, and that decisions related to their future put their needs first.

Preparing Them For Adulthood

Supporting a child in care also means preparing them for the future.

For example, foster parents might teach teens how to budget, save money, and help guide them to available support if they age out of care.

Support for Foster Parents in South Carolina

 If you become a foster parent in South Carolina, you won’t be alone.

Support options are available to help you provide the best possible care. Let’s look at some of those.

Financial Assistance

Foster parents in South Carolina receive a monthly stipend to help with the cost of raising a child. This is not a payment to foster parents, personal income, or a job opportunity — this stipend is specifically set aside to help with the costs of raising a child.

The monthly amounts, according to the South Carolina Department of Social Services in 2023, are as follows: 

  • $644.00 for kids aged 0-5
  • $752.00 for kids aged 6-12
  • $794.00 for kids aged 12-20

Depending on the type of foster care, foster parents may be given a larger stipend to be able to provide the best possible care.

Ongoing Preservice Sessions

Foster parents in South Carolina should continue learning whenever they can.

After the first preservice session, ongoing sessions can help new foster parents understand how to provide the best care. These sessions cover the needs of children in care while talking about various topics, including:

  • Taking care of kids who have been through trauma
  • Good communication
  • Understanding how kids think
  • And more

To get you started, you can find helpful resources on the South Carolina Foster Parent Association website.

Supportive Communities

As a foster parent, the support of others who understand can help you on your own journey.

Online communities on social networking or forums are a great place to start — you’ll be able to relate to other foster parents, ask questions, and rely on others in the community. 

You can also look for in-person meetups if you prefer a more personal approach.

The sense of community created by these networks is important for motivation, resilience, and well-being.

Sevita’s Upcoming Webinar Can Help You Learn More

Ready to become a foster parent in South Carolina? Do you want to know more about the process? 

If so, our upcoming webinar can help point you in the right direction.

By attending a Foster Parent Information Session Webinar, you’ll learn more about the fostering process and what it takes to be a foster parent. You’ll also learn about therapeutic foster care and how to provide a safe, loving, and supportive home for a child in need right here at home. 

Sign up for our webinar today, or call our local office to get started!

Sign Up For The Webinar

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