NEWBERRY — “There is a shortage of foster families available in Newberry County,” said Betsy Manning with the South Carolina Youth Advocate Program.
Manning goes on to say that “We’re recruiting foster families in Newberry. There are 39 children, at the last count, and only 11 foster homes.”
Manning works for the SCYAP which is a non-profit that assists in helping foster families while the Department of Social Services still manages the children and treatment plans for the birth families.
“Our job is to keep the foster families informed,” said Manning, who explains that the partnership between DSS and SCYAP began in December 2011 and allows the DSS to do the investigation and management of the child while the non-profit focuses entirely on foster families and being a support pillar for future and current families.
SCYAP works with 10 counties altogether in the upstate area which include: Newberry, Anderson, Greenville, Oconee, Pickens, Spartanburg, Cherokee, Greenville, Greenwood and Laurens.
As for the shortage of foster families, Manning says, “There could be a number of reasons (people don’t adopt.) Economic times or not being informed about foster care (are a couple of reasons).”
Manning also addresses myths that people have about foster care.
“People think they have to be married or rich or well-off. We want people to be employed and be responsible and pay their bills. We also want them to have a heartfelt calling and room for them in their hearts and homes,” Manning says.
As for the main requirements for becoming a foster parent, Manning states that, “You have to be at least 21 years old, financially responsible and pay your own bills. You have to pass several background checks. You do not have to be married. There are also fire marshall inspections because you must have room for the child. If a home was built before 1978, DHEC (Department of Health and Environmental Control) checks for lead. There are also 14 hours of training and a home study. If there are children over 18 years living in the house, they must also go through background checks.”
Manning says that SCYAP is working to disprove many of the myths about foster care by traveling and talking to different groups about what it really takes to be a foster parent or family.
In fact, Manning is planning to meet with the Newberry County School District on Oct. 23.
“I want them to be informed of our support. A lot of school administrators and teachers make awesome families,” Manning states.
“I want to applaud the Newberry school district for opening up their arms to let us speak to them,” says Manning.
She also adds that the Newberry DSS Director Byron Dendy “has been very supportive of foster families.”
Dendy is planning to meet with Manning and the school district to discuss foster care.
She also goes to churches and other organizations to inform people about what it takes to be a foster family.
“We are looking for a church in Newberry to host (quarterly) interest meetings for foster families,” says Manning, “We want to reach out to the faith based community.”
She says that there is no specific time to be a foster parent.
“You can be a foster parent any time of the year as there is training all the time,” she says.
“A mind shift needs to occur with foster care and about the difference (people) can make,” says Manning.
For more information regarding foster care in Newberry County, contact Manning at 864-357-9021 or 864-312-6700.
A website is currently in the works for the SCYAP.
People may also find further information regarding foster care on the DSS website, www.dss.sc.gov/content/customers/protection/fcs/index.aspx.