SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – Children who are in the foster care system in the Upstate sometimes have nowhere to go.
A non-profit, the Welcome Home Foundation, is working with the South Carolina Department of Social Services to help change that.
“We want children that are in foster care that have been removed from custodial parents, that are already outside of that custodial parent, to know that we care about them,” said Haley Grau.
For a month, Welcome Home has operated a Day House, open three days a week, for children who are in the system, but not yet placed with foster families. They also work with children who are placed with family members that don’t have secured childcare yet.
“You don’t need to sit under the florescent lights and sit in an office setting,” said Grau.
Haley Grau, with the foundation, said a lot of the time, these kids are sleeping on the floors of the DSS offices.
“When they’re not here, they’re in an office or in emergency placement,” said Grau.
Volunteers spend time with the children during three-hour shifts, freeing up DSS caseworkers to focus on long-term solutions.
“We can’t keep kids forever, but we can do this immediate, right now and give them a really good day, so that DSS can do what they need to do and work on their cases,” she said.
The kids they help are selected through a placement team that works in the Upstate. From teenagers who have been in the system for years, to children spending their first night away from their home, Grau said they’ve seen it all.
“From ‘I’ve left a home, this is the only home I’ve ever known, even though it’s trauma, it’s the only home I’ve ever known’ to ‘I don’t know where I’m going to sleep tonight with a trash bag full of the things I could grab on my way out,'” said Grau.
Connolley-Anne Ragley is with DSS. She said all of these kids have come into foster care through a judge’s orders or law enforcement emergency protection.
“Really just give them a home-like setting while they’re waiting for that foster placement,” Ragley explained. “Working to help minimize trauma that the child experiences when they can no longer safely remain in their home.”
The foundation is also opening a nighttime emergency shelter in August.
“[The shelter will be] where a family will operate an emergency foster home, where they live there, but they open up the beds and the rooms for kids to come and stay during the nighttime hours,” said Grau.
Both homes were donated anonymously to the organization and now they’re raising support to keep both homes open.
If you would like to volunteer, open your home up to foster care, or donate to the organization, click here.
To see how many children and teenagers are in the foster care system in the Upstate, click here.