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Programs Foster Care

Foster Care

Foster Care

There are nearly 4,000 children in foster care across South Carolina, and not nearly enough homes to welcome them in. We are on a mission to change that.

Imagine being separated from your home, family, and everything you’ve ever known. That’s what is happening for thousands of children and youth in our state. Thornwell licenses safe, stable, loving families to provide a temporary home for these beloved children. Foster parents support trauma recovery and healing while families cope with crises and receive services to safely resume caring for their children.

Being a foster parent means committing to loving and caring for children who have experienced abuse, neglect, and trauma. This is not easy work! But at Thornwell, you’re never in this alone! Each Thornwell foster family is supported by a Family Specialist that supports them through every step using an attachment-based model called Trust Based Relational Intervention. Attachment is a key foundation to the work we do!

Through education, support, and community we see our foster parents persist and, even more rewarding, we see children thrive. Our Thornwell foster parents are meeting some of the greatest needs in our state – keeping siblings together, enthusiastically welcoming teens, and providing care and support to pregnant or parenting youth when they need it most.

You can support children and families impacted by foster care no matter where you live! We are always looking for faithful partners to support our mission to serve children and families impacted by foster care.

If you’re interested in taking the first step in becoming a foster parent, we’d love to talk with you! Schedule a call with our recruitment specialist by clicking the button, below!

Schedule a call to learn more

Serving Children and Families IMPACTED BY FOSTER CARE across south carolina

Upstate Region
Midlands Region
Pee Dee Region
Support At Every Step

Precious children and teens in our community need the love and support of a stable family when they enter foster care.

They need foster parents who are willing to share their homes, hearts, and lives to keep them safe. They also need a loving community that will gather around the entire family and support them throughout the foster care journey.

With nearly a century-and-a-half of experience working on behalf of children and families across the Southeast, we understand a healthy foster care program is built on a foundation of support. That’s why we help families in South Carolina not only obtain their license to foster, but we continue to walk alongside them as encouraging partners every step of the way as they care well for children and teens. 

Community

Share the journey with other children and families in foster care.

Experts

We’ll guide you through the process and advocate for your needs.

Resources

We’ve been there. We’ll lighten the burden with our expertise.

Training

Get the knowledge and support you need to build healthy and lasting relationships with your children in foster care.

Foster Care Takes All Of Us

You can be part of our growing community of foster care advocates who are committed to loving children who have experienced trauma. Whether it’s opening our homes, or providing meals, prayer or financial support, we all have something to offer—and children and families in foster care need all of us!

Foster With Us

Foster With Us

Get more information about becoming a foster family.

Come Alongside Families

Come Alongside Families

Give to Thornwell’s Foster Care Program.

Foster Care Wish List

Foster Care Wish List

See what is needed by Thornwell foster families.

Are you a current Thornwell foster parent wanting to share your experiences, successes, and teachable moments along your fostering journey? Click the button below to submit your story, today!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is foster care?

Foster care is a temporary living arrangement that provides children with a safe and loving home when there are no biological relatives who are currently equipped to do so. The primary goal of foster care is to support family reunification and restoration between children and their biological relatives. Placing children in nurturing foster homes creates an opportunity for relatives to receive the additional support and resources that they may need to better care for themselves and their children.

Why are children in foster care?

Children enter the foster care system due to a variety of circumstances that cause their living situation to be unsafe or unstable, not because they have done anything wrong. These circumstances can range from abuse and neglect to the death or arrest of a parent. Placement with a foster family usually only occurs if the Department of Social Services (DSS) cannot find any available relatives or close friends of the biological family to care for the child.

INTERESTED IN FOSTERING?

How long do children remain in foster care?

Every family situation is different. Some placements last only a few days while others last more than a year.

What are the requirements to be a foster parent in South Carolina?

Foster parents must be able to provide a safe and nurturing temporary home for children in care. This home can be a house or an apartment, and it can be either owned or rented as long as it passes fire and DHEC inspections. They must be able to provide adequate care for an additional child, but there are no fixed-income requirements. They may be married, single, divorced, or widowed, but they must be at least 21 years old and able to pass background checks, fingerprint screenings, and driving record checks. Medical reports and personal references are also needed.

INTERESTED IN FOSTERING?

How much does it cost to become a foster parent?

At Thornwell, it is our hope that there is no cost associated with becoming a foster parent. The cost of background checks is always covered, and we work with donors to make sure one-time costs never prevent licensing. For example, some people need to purchase new fire extinguishers or smoke detectors to pass the fire inspection, and we offer financial support to ensure these requirements can be met.

Do foster parents receive financial support for the children they foster?

Foster parents receive a monthly stipend called a board payment for each day a child is placed in their home. Additionally, children in foster care receive a clothing allowance and medical insurance provided by Medicaid.

How much interaction do foster families have with a child's family?

Children in foster care usually have court-ordered family visitation about twice a month. Interactions with parents depend a lot on the specific case and foster parents’ personal preferences. Since the goal of foster care is reunification, having a relationship with a child’s parents can be extremely beneficial when the case allows. The DSS caseworker can advise on how to appropriately involve the biological parents in a child’s life.

Where do children in foster care attend school?

Typically, school-aged children attend school based on where the foster home is zoned. In some cases, it may be advantageous for the child to remain enrolled at their school of origin, but these circumstances are discussed during the selection process so that foster parents can make an informed decision regarding their school transportation commitment.

Do foster parents have any control over which children are placed in their care?

Foster parents can express their preferences about the age range, gender, and number of children they would like to welcome into their home. They are also free to decline any placement that is offered to them.

Is a child’s background available to foster parents?

All known information that is essential to a child’s well-being is provided to foster parents, including medical, educational, and behavioral information. A child’s case manager can answer any further questions that a foster parent might have.

Can foster parents work outside the home?

Yes! It is very common for foster parents to balance employment with parenting children in their care.

How is a foster parent involved in court hearings?

Foster parents are invited to attend court hearings, but it is not mandatory that they do so. If they attend, they can share information regarding the child’s progress with the court.

Do foster parents make all decisions regarding children in their care?

Foster parents have physical custody of children in their care, but DSS remains legally responsible for them. This means that foster parents can use the “reasonable and prudent parent standard” to make decisions for children in their care regarding extracurricular, enrichment, cultural, and social activities. However, decisions regarding travel outside of the country, medical procedures, schooling, and interaction with a child’s family members are among those decisions that still require DSS authorization.

What support does Thornwell provide to licensed foster parents?

Thornwell provides several supports for our foster parents. We believe that a supportive community is vital to creating a thriving family of any kind. A Family Specialist is available 24/7 for advice and encouragement before, during, and after a placement. We are also intentional about creating a community among our foster parents through a private Facebook group and opportunities for in-person fellowship.

What is a Thornwell Family Specialist?

A Foster Care Family Specialist provides guidance, resources, and support to a foster family in addition to case management services. At Thornwell, Family Specialists use a model called Trust Based Relational Intervention. This is an attachment-based, trauma-informed approach to caring for kids with complex needs resulting from early childhood trauma. Your Family Specialist will support foster parents with TBRI tips and tools as children are placed in the home so families can best support their healing and development.

What is the most reasonable timeframe for the licensing process?

Foster home licensing takes time as it is a detailed process that ensures homes are thoroughly safe, capable, and equipped. At Thornwell, the process typically takes three to six months although this timeline relies heavily on the foster family’s pace in turning in paperwork and completing necessary steps. At Thornwell, a Family Specialist will guide you through the process of licensure. They will be your support and advocate.

Should those hoping to adopt become foster parents?

Foster care is designed to be temporary. Foster parents offer a home to children and youth that cannot currently live with parents or family members – typically due to allegations of abuse, neglect, or abandonment. The goal is always to reunify families whenever safe and possible. Foster parents play an integral role in the health and healing of the child or youth and can be key in helping that young person maintain important bonds and connections. While there are times that reunification is not possible and the goal may become adoption, foster parents need to be able to support – truly champion – family reunification.

How does fostering impact the children of foster parents?

Foster care will impact everyone in the home – sometimes the children in the home most acutely. Be prepared for some varying emotions, challenges with transitions, and lots of questions. This is a learning experience for everyone, and children don’t have all the same coping, communicating, and conflict management skills that adults have learned over time. That’s okay! Fostering will help them to learn those skills and more! Foster parents often share that foster care has positively shaped their children’s faith, values, and world view – creating opportunities to show empathy, compassion, and sharing.

What should a couple do if one of them is unsure about fostering?

At Thornwell, we encourage couples to commit to foster care as a team. If one person is not completely on board, we recommend not moving forward yet. You might spend time to gather more information, address perceived barriers, assess your current capacity, and seek support and counsel of friends and current foster parents. You may find that with time, information, and support, you can enter foster parenting wisely together.

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