Governor Henry McMaster today was joined by South Carolina Department of Social Services (SCDSS) Director Michael Leach and members of the General Assembly for a ceremonial bill signing of H. 3509, a bill that allows the state to draw down federal funding to provide for an extended, voluntary foster care program when a child ages out of foster care on their 18th birthday.
“By providing additional resources to our youth aging out of foster care we significantly increase their chance of success in adulthood and create a brighter future for all of South Carolina,” said Governor Henry McMaster. “This legislation will greatly improve the outcomes of our foster care system and I applaud Director Leach for his efforts in getting this legislation across the finish line.”
South Carolina is currently operating a state-run program funded with 100% state funds for youth aged 18-21 that have aged out of foster care. The Chafee/ETV program provides opportunities for young people transitioning into adulthood including funding services and support for youth. In the current state-funded program, SCDSS is serving 164 youth as of May 1, 2022 who have voluntarily signed themselves back into care. Services provided to these youths include assistance with housing, transportation, education/training, case management, and preparing these youth for the transition to adulthood. By adding this statute change into state law, South Carolina will be able to draw down federal Title IV-E dollars to help fund this program.
“We are so excited about today’s signing,” said SCDSS Director Michael Leach. “Extending foster care until a youth’s 21st birthday, through this voluntary program, means invaluable added assistance for our youth as they begin to go out on their own. That support is crucial to making sure they get the strong start they need to be successful and productive adults. Today is just the beginning of their story and their future.”
The Extension of Foster Care expansion, and obtaining the corresponding federal money available to fund this program has been a top legislative priority of SCDSS.