Foster care officials looking to break stigma surrounding system

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Published: Jul. 3, 2021 at 11:50 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - In Richland County there are more than 150 foster families, but foster care officials say that is not enough for the large number of children who still need homes in our communities.

Growing up in the foster system can be difficult on those children for a number of reasons.

“They’ve got more trauma than other children might have, they’ve got more pain than other children might have,” said Lee Fletcher, with the Richland County Foster Care Association.

On top of those challenges, some children in foster care also face a stigma associated with their situations.

“They do get treated differently by their peers and often times by adults, so its hard for them to even grasp their situations,” said Fletcher.

Now foster care officials in Richland County and around the country are trying to break that stigma.

“If we can get communities to come together and help encourage and lift up these children and they can all work together they will see that they’re not scary,” said Karla Littleton with the South Carolina Foster Parent Association. “Our hope is that many of them will decide to be foster parents.”

The organizations issuing a challenge to community leaders.

“We would like for them to really take it on as a project and see how they can improve the lives of these children,” said Littleton.

The Richland County Sheriff’s Department accepting that challenge.

“One way that we would like to do that is for sure to treat children that are in foster care with dignity,” said Captain Heidi Jackson with RCSD. “Part of that is to stop using the words foster kid or foster child but instead referring to them as a child or children and their circumstances are foster care.”

RCSD hopes other organizations will join them in helping to make that change.

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