Child advocates seek more foster families in the Upstate - FOX Carolina 21

Child advocates seek more foster families in the Upstate

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Kenneth Camp (left) and Clint Howell (right) purchase Christmas gifts for foster children (Courtesy: SC Youth Advocate Program) Kenneth Camp (left) and Clint Howell (right) purchase Christmas gifts for foster children (Courtesy: SC Youth Advocate Program)
Cameras were not allowed into an adoption finalization ceremony in Anderson, as 22 children were officially signed over to their forever homes (12/14/2016 FOX Carolina) Cameras were not allowed into an adoption finalization ceremony in Anderson, as 22 children were officially signed over to their forever homes (12/14/2016 FOX Carolina)
ANDERSON, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Christmas came early Wednesday for more than a dozen Upstate families at the Anderson County Courthouse; including Matthew Moser's family - he and his wife officially adopted their foster son of three years. 

"He came into our care when he was four weeks old," said Moser. "This is the conclusion of our journey, and starting up a new one...Just to have him in our home forever means the world to us."

22 children had their adoptions finalized, according to the SC Dept. of Social Services. Some, like Moser's boy, had lived in their foster family for years before their adoption was finalized. It's a happy ending many kids in foster care don't get. 

DSS reports as of Nov. 1 there were 1,103 foster children in Region I of South Carolina, which covers Greenville, Anderson and Spartanburg counties, as well as several others. Also as of Nov. 1, there were just 612 foster homes available. 

Betsy Manning, a recruiter with the Youth Advocate Program in Greenville believes that deficit could exist because many parents simply may not understand the foster care system. 

"I think it's a lot of under-education," said Manning. "People may think they know 'well, you have to do this, this and this to become a foster parent.' They may just have the surface of the information they need to take the next step. Manning also said the lengthy and involved process may deter potential parents from wanting to become foster parents and potential adoptive parents. 

Spartanburg County has the biggest shortfall of homes for foster kids. As of Nov. 1, there were 123 homes available, but 238 more are needed, according to statistics from DSS. 

"I wish it would go away. I wish we didn't have this issue," said Manning, who works to recruit families to become foster parents. 

Some people are stepping in to help, however. 

Kenneth Camp and Clint Howell, owners of Sudz coin-operated laundromat in Boiling Springs, took it upon themselves to buy Christmas presents for several foster children in Spartanburg County. It was their way of bringing awareness to the problem the county faces when it comes to placing these children. 

"There are a lot of kids that are being put into a situation that is beyond their control," said Camp. Both men said they wanted to give back to a community that has supported them in their business since they opened. 

Children in foster care come from a variety of backgrounds. Many of them are in the care of the state because their parents are unable to take care of them, or their home environment is unsafe. Manning said many are at an elevated risk of incarceration, homelessness and other problems. 

Manning and other child advocates hope the numbers can even out soon as they try to spread awareness. 

For more information on how you can become a foster parent, visit AdoptUsKids.org or go to scyap.com

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