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Colleton County Foster Parent Association receives statewide recognition

Audrey Brown, County Director of DSS, along with Sandy Polk and Latoya Pinckney, make a difference to the foster children and foster parents of Colleton County. Photo by Cindy Crosby.

The month of May is recognized as National Foster Care Month in South Carolina. The South Carolina Department of Social Services (SCDSS) recognized some of our local families who have opened their homes and hearts to foster children during a dinner held on Thursday, May 14th for the Colleton County Foster Parent Association. “We believe that this is the season where the foster parents have cared for our children, and today, we want to celebrate them as a blessing to the agency,” said Audrey Brown, Colleton County Director of the Department of Social Services.

According to information provided by SCDSS, there are around 4,020 children in the foster care system in our state alone, with approximately 537 children free for adoption. Last year alone, DSS helped place more than 400 children in forever families. With numbers this overwhelming, it becomes increasingly important for families to be willing to open their homes for children and youths who are in need of temporary foster care support; especially for the ages of 9-17 years of age.

What exactly is foster care? Foster care is when a child, or children, cannot remain in their home safely. Under the legal custody of the Department of Social Service, they are placed in a temporary, licensed foster home that can best meet their needs; while the department works to reunite them with their family, or in some cases, terminate parental rights. Foster care is for children ages birth to 18 years old.

Foch and Linda Hiott have been foster parents for over 21 years, hosting over 100 children, adopting two. Here they are shown with a plaque honoring the Colleton County Foster Parent Association as Local Foster Parent Association of the Year.

Foster parents are special people who are willing to provide daily care, acceptance, assistance with educational and medical needs, and a stable, structured home environment. Colleton County recognized two of their many wonderful foster families, Clara Singleton and Foch and Linda Hiott, this past week during the May meeting.

Foch and Linda Hiott have been foster parents for over 21 years, having had over 100 children in their home, and adopting two children of their own. The Hiotts, who got their start by providing respite for family members who were foster parents, have had children from birth to 13 years of age; some staying for as short as three days and others as long as three years.

“I felt like we could help, and we did,” said Linda Hiott. “A set of safe, opening arms are great for children. They have to know they are safe.”

The hardest thing for the Hiotts is to not gettattached to the children in their care. “Once they come into my home and I put my hands on them, I’m attached,” said Linda, who spent over eight months at MUSC with a medically fragile baby who didn’t survive. Those months through multiple surgeries and tiny milestones, however, are some of the most rewarding to Linda Hiott. “She did a lot of things they didn’t think she would ever do, so for that, I am very thankful. Children just need to know that someone cares for them.”

Clara Singleton has been helping foster for over 17 years and has had 150 kids come through her home. Photos by Cindy Crosby.

Clara Singleton has been helping foster for over 17 years and has had 150 kids in her home. She got her start in foster parenting because all of her children were grown and she didn’t want to live alone. Singleton doesn’t have to worry about that now, as she always has six foster kids at a time ranging in age from birth to early teens. With two adult children of her own and five adopted, Singleton is a busy mother and grandmother. “It takes a team to raise these kids,” admitted Singleton who calls on her whole family as a support system. “You love them all,” said Singleton, “but you fall in love with the babies.”

Clearly with a lot of love, time, and a big heart, foster parents can make a difference in the lives of children in need. To find out how to become a foster or adoptive family in South Carolina, visit the South Carolina Foster Parent Association at www.scfpa.com or Heartfelt Calling at www.heartfeltcalling.org or call 1-888-828-3555 or (803) 865-2020.

 

Cindy Crosby (685 Posts)