Children caught in the foster care system are lucky if they remain in just one foster home for more than a few weeks, finish a school year without changing districts, regularly see their brothers and sisters, receive consistent mental health counseling and medication, and feel safe at night. Scratch the surface of child fatalities and service gaps at the Department of Social Service, to see another tragedy: Foster children don’t have the chance of being children.
DSS struggles to meet basic needs, but what about children’s concealed needs? Who is ordering school pictures and class rings, making afternoon snacks and signing them up for dance class and SAT prep? Teaching teens to drive and write grocery lists? Who is hanging their art on the fridge?
The answer should be all of us, not just DSS, but CASA, churches, librarians, teachers, guidance counselors, coaches, civic groups and extended social networks. One social worker can’t meet the needs of 20 to 30 children, but she can start. She can identify resources and make connections for the child; he can recruit quality foster parents and congregate care facilities that foster a loving environment.
Each of us can remember that these children aren’t just foster children; they are South Carolina’s children, and we have a responsibility to give them the chance of childhood.