In South Carolina, over 50,000 grandparents have primary responsibility for their grandchildren. There is also the growing number of extended family members or close family friends who care for a relative’s child. This practice is often referred to as kinship care and, in recent years has become known as a better alternative than placing children in the foster care system. However, many kinship families face obstacles and challenges due to the unanticipated responsibility of grandparents and other relatives having to raise a child. An alarming amount of kin caregivers experience poverty or are considered low income.

In order to hear first-hand the stories, experiences and challenges of kin caregivers, the Foundation held a Listening Session with Helping and Lending Outreach Services (HALOS) in the spring of 2012. Foundation representatives and community stakeholders listened to heartfelt stories and difficulties that impact many kinship care families. The challenges seen by a large number of families were the lack of financial and support services specifically for kin caregivers. In order to advocate and bring a voice to kin caregivers across South Carolina, the Foundation launched a Kinship Care Initiative in early 2014 as a continuation of the stories heard from the Listening Session.

The Kinship Care Initiative continues our mission to help others live out of poverty by advocating and raising awareness for families that are often overlooked due to their socioeconomic status. As a part of the beginning phase of the Initiative, research was conducted on the current status of kinship care in South Carolina and how we compare to model states. The Research Mini-Brief was released in early 2014 and addressed issues ranging from the benefits and challenges kin caregivers face to recommendations for South Carolina to improve kinship provider outreach.

The Initiative is dedicated to improving kinship families’ well-being, resources and services. This will be achieved through the development of a Kinship Care Task Force, grant making, and strategic partnerships with organizations that are committed to improving outcomes for kinship families. Our sincere hope as a Foundation is to increase permanency, stability and livelihood of kinship families so that children in our state live in safe, loving homes.

For more information, contact Chynna A. Phillips, Research and Policy Manager.