2016:     Added representatives to the Statewide Kinship Care Advisory Council from the Palmetto Association for Children & Families, Empowering Families Network/SAFY, Fostering Great Ideas and Miracle Hill Ministries; the Children’s Trust of South Carolina included in their Legislative Priority Areas for 2016 supporting policies that help kinship care families meet the needs of the children they take into care; Dr. Stephanie Cooper-Lewter presented to the South Carolina Children’s Justice Act Task Force on kinship care in February; provided input to the South Carolina Department of Social Services Strategic Development Council and the South Carolina Department of Social Services Senate Oversight Committee Child Welfare Reform Group; presented to South Carolina Program for Infant and Toddler Care in March on the importance of early attachment; supported South Carolina Department of Social Services 2016 Empowering Girls Conference for girls with foster care experience (kinship, adoption, reunification or guardianship status) to build their independent living skills in March; Dr. Stephanie Cooper-Lewter presented to the Joint Citizens and Legislative Committee on Children in March; Joint Citizens and Legislative Committee on Children released 2016 Annual Report and Data Reference Book to members of the General Assembly in April which included a brand new focus and attention on kinship care as an outgrowth of previous kinship care testimony that various Council members provided; South Carolina Department of Social Services request to legislators to provide financial support to licensed kinship families approved in July; Chynna A. Phillips interviewed numerous kinship caregivers from across the state over summer months; partnered with the Palmetto Association for Children & Families, The Duke Endowment, HALOS and the South Carolina Department of Social Services to provide 5 Kinship Care trainings featuring Dr. Joseph Crumbley across the state with 691 people attending and kinship caregiver testimonies provided in each region; continued grant support to HALOS in partnership with The Duke Endowment; provided grant to Richland School District Two to support their Grandparents Raising Grandchildren program; Dr. Stephanie Cooper-Lewter presented to the PACFAF Executives Retreat and Annual Meeting on Kinship Care in June; Council Members Kim Clifton, Dan Bracken, Marie Tanis and Foundation Representative Chynna A. Phillips  testified for the Joint Citizens and Legislative Committee on Children Public Hearings in Fall; introduced HALOS to South Carolina Governor’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Council in November; served on South Carolina Department of Social Services Kinship Care Workgroup, including sub-group focused on kinship foster care licensing.

2015:     Established and convened Statewide Kinship Care Advisory Council with representatives from six organizations invited to serve: HALOS, South Carolina Department of Social Services, The Children’s Trust, University of South Carolina’s Center for Child and Family Studies, University of South Carolina Children’s Law Center and the South Carolina Lieutenant Governor’s Office on Aging; Philanthropic partners included The Annie E. Casey Foundation and The Duke Endowment; added representatives throughout the year from Growing Home Southeast, Richland County Legislative Delegation and Richland School District Two; national experts presented to Council including Jennifer Miller with Child Focus, Inc., Gretchen Test with The Annie E. Casey Foundation Child Welfare Strategies Group, and Ana Beltran from Generations United; met with newly appointed South Carolina Department of Social Services Director Susan Alford at Foundation in April; Dr. Stephanie Cooper-Lewter presented to South Carolina Department of Social Service Kinship Care Coordinators; Dr. Stephanie Cooper-Lewter wrote a blog entitled Every Kid Needs A Family, A South Carolina Perspective for The Children’s Trust in May; convened funders including The Duke Endowment, Annie E. Casey Foundation and Casey Family Programs at Foundation in August; Dr. Stephanie Cooper-Lewter presented testimony to the South Carolina Senate General Committee – DSS Oversight Committee in August; jointly funded with The Duke Endowment to expand HALOS (more than $1 million over 3 years) in August; awarded grant to Grandparents Raising Grandchildren in Richland School District Two in August; presented testimony to the Joint Citizens and Legislative Committee on Children by Kim Clifton and Dr. Kimberly Janha in November, joined by other kinship caregivers who testified in person, along with written testimonies submitted online by kinship caregivers; submitted follow-up recommendations by Kim Clifton on behalf of the Council to Senator Mike Fair as an outgrowth of testimony to the Joint Citizens and Legislative Committee on Children in November; Dr. Stephanie Cooper-Lewter provided testimony and recommendations on behalf of the Council to the Richland County Legislative Delegation accompanied by Kim Clifton in December 2015.

2014:     Kinship Care Initiative launched in conjunction with Kinship Care Summit in September; released Research Brief, A Place to Belong: A Closer Look at Kinship Providers and Their Families in September; publically announced formalized partnership for 2015 with The Annie E. Casey Foundation in October.

2013:     Foundation President Tom Keith met with South Carolina Department of Social Services representatives and The Children’s Law Office to learn more about kinship care policies and practices in September; conducted research on the needs of kinship families.

2012:     Held Unsung Heroes Listening Session in Charleston with HALOS kinship caregivers in April (demographics of caregivers included the following: 90% African American; 53% ages 53-64; 62% lived in a household of 4 to 6 people; 57% were unemployed or not working; 90% had an educational level of a high school diploma or less; 71% had a household income of less than $25,000).

2007:     First Grant Awarded to Helping and Lending Outreach Support (HALOS) to support their program for relatives raising children in the absence of their parents in the tri-county areas of Charleston, Dorchester and Berkley counties. This first grant initially brought to the Foundation’s attention the unmet needs of kinship families. Additional grants were awarded to HALOS in subsequent years.

For more information, contact Dr. Stephanie Cooper-Lewter, Vice President of Initiatives and Public Policy.