More families willing to provide long term care and increased public support would allow more children to receive foster care in Union County, a Department of Social Services official says.
The Ladies for Christ of Putman Baptist Church recently donated book bags and Bibles to the Union County Foster Parents Association. The association also received a donation of school supplies from The Ladies Uplift Circle of The Church of Jesus Christ — Spartanburg Branch.
Amy Austin, DSS Foster Family Licenser and Recruiter, said that more donations like these are needed to support foster care in the county. She said that the association raised funds to purchase school and other supplies for use by the county’s 11 foster families. The school supplies, new and used clothing, beds, cribs and walkers were recently made available to foster families through the association’s “freecycle” program held in the old Smith Drugs building.
Mrs. Austin said items are also distributed to foster homes by DSS personnel. More supplies — particularly new clothing and undergarments — are needed and she urged people to get more involved in supporting foster families.
More families are needed that are willing to serve as foster parents, especially for siblings, older children and teen-agers. Mrs. Austin said that of the 45 local children now requiring foster care, only 15 have been placed with families in the county. The rest have had to be sent to a foster home or even a group home outside the county. Most of those children were older children and teenagers who are often the most difficult to place.
“We want to keep them in the county to keep them in their school and within their community,” she said. “This makes it easier for care workers to monitor their situation. It allows the care workers to spend more time getting services for the children and the families.
“We need people who will take in sibling groups, older children and teenagers,” she said. “It’s harder to find foster care for older children, especially teen-agers, but we need more families to take them in so they can remain here in the county and stay involved with their school and school activities.”
Association president Robin Cremeans said the group raises money to purchase such things as band instruments, sports uniforms, class rings for children in foster care. The group sponsored a booth at the Jonesville Festival where they provided information about foster care and how to become to become a foster parent. They also sold items such as Christmas ornaments made by the children in foster care and their foster parents.
“We really need foster parents, long-term foster parents,” Mrs. Cremeans said. “We have so many children in group homes in other counties that should be able to stay in Union County. It makes a big difference for these children to stay in their schools and in their churches and to be able to see friends in their own community.”
For more information or to make a donation or become a foster family or volunteer, contact Amy Austin at 251-4031. Interested persons may also contact Mrs. Cremeans at 674-6090 or 426-2251.