Faith-based nonprofit searching for more than 200 foster families to keep children local

VIDEO: More than 200 foster families needed in the Lowcountry to keep children local

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A faith-based nonprofit says about 250 foster homes are needed in the Charleston area.

The Epworth Foster Care Program says about half of the children from the Lowcountry who are in foster care are living with families in other parts of the state.

Within the last year Epworth Children’s Home, based in Columbia, opened an administrative office in Summerville at the start of this year to address the growing foster care needs in the Lowcountry. It’s a United Methodist Church organization.

Epworth in Summerville is a child placing agency that assists DSS by connecting foster families with children.

The Director of Foster Care and Adoptions, McBee Zimmerman, says there are more than 600 children in foster care from the tri-county area and 40 to 60 percent of them live in other parts of the state.

She says there are 5,000 children in foster care in South Carolina.

Zimmerman says they do not have enough foster homes in this area to accommodate the needs.

“Not only are we trying to bring our children home to their communities of origin which is where their schools are, their doctors, their friends, their teachers, but also their brothers, their sisters, their biological families,” Zimmerman said. “Reunification is much more likely if a child is in their county of origin because visits are easier, they’re able to have family connections.”

They say the holidays can be even tougher time for children to be away from their families.

“It is such a huge crisis. There’s no one body or no one organization that can actually solve this problem. I have a huge passion for this population,” McBee said.

It can take between a month and half to three months to be approved as a foster family.

"We match children very carefully with families making sure that both the needs of the children and the families needs are met," Zimmerman said.

Epworth will have an information session on Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. The meeting will take place at its Summerville location at 303 Central Avenue.

Officials say you can also drop by the office at another time or schedule a time for staff to come visit you to learn more about becoming a foster family.

“It’s having that safe secure environment. I can’t just can’t say how huge that is for a child,” Zimmerman said.

If you’d like more information you can visit www.epworthchildrenshome.org/ or call 843-970-3960.

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