GREENVILLE, S.C. —WYFF News 4 Investigates learned that South Carolina doesn’t have enough foster parents to care for the more than 3,700 children currently in foster care.
Finding people to care for foster children is a challenge in South Carolina. According to numbers WYFF News 4 Investigates obtained, there are 1,227 children in foster care in the Upstate, but only 682 foster homes and shelters.
Some foster homes care for more than one child, but foster parents said there is still a need for more homes.
“Unfortunately, if there’s a child from Greenville County but there’s not a home in Greenville available to take them, they’ll reach out to find a home wherever they can. So it may very well be in Oconee County,” foster parent Chris Koppenger said.
WYFF News 4 Investigates learned that more than half of foster children in the Upstate are placed in foster homes outside of their home counties.
“It’s difficult enough that they’re being taken from their parents, but now you’re taking away their friends, their school, the doctor they’re used to, the church they’ve gone to,” Koppenger said.
Koppenger is a member of Heartfelt Calling, an organization that recruits foster parents. http://www.heartfeltcalling.org/
Koppenger said more foster parents would help increase the odds that children could stay in their communities and have a better chance to thrive. The need is great statewide. According to numbers WYFF News 4 Investigates obtained from the Department of Social Services, there are about 400 more children in South Carolina’s foster system now than there were two years ago.
We checked with Georgia and North Carolina as well. Officials in both states provided WYFF News 4 Investigates with numbers showing that there are hundreds more foster children in those states right now compared to a year ago. However, neither state was able to say if there are enough foster homes for the children.
Koppenger said people can be hesitant to become foster parents because they may only have the child for a little while. Koppenger said the more than 40 children he and his wife have fostered will always be in his heart, even if they are no longer in his home.
“These are my children, they will always be my children,” Koppenger said.