Pushing to expand foster care programs in SC would help aging youth

COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — South Carolina lawmakers are considering a bill that would establish an extended foster care program for young adults.

The legislation would change state law and allow South Carolina to raise federal funds to help cover costs. Currently, South Carolina is one of two states that do not.

Adults under the age of 21 who are or were in the legal custody of the South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) on their 18th birthday would be eligible for the extended foster care program.

There is now a Voluntary Placement Program in South Carolina for aging young adoptees. State dollars cover program costs. According to the DSS, there are 177 young people in this program.

Officials said an expansion of foster care would help these young people establish a support system as they move into adulthood.

DSS Director of Communications and External Affairs, Connelly-Anne Ragley, said: “We know that young people who are no longer in foster care have higher rates of incarceration, they sometimes experience unintended pregnancies. planned at higher rates than other teenagers, they might have difficulty finding a job or training or even continuing their education.

The non-profit organization Fostering Great Ideas says it supports the extension. The organization supports hundreds of young people in foster care in South Carolina each year.

Advocacy Director Tori Shuler said expanding foster care in South Carolina would ensure young people in foster care leave care when they are ready and have the support they need. to prepare for life after foster care. Shuler said the change will help youth who are in foster care complete high school, explore post-secondary options and enter the workforce.

“We’re just going to have better results and when we have better results, it’s better for everyone in the state. It means people are able to be self-reliant and they can opt out of support, which is the plan — opt out when you’re ready,” Shuler said.

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