Department of Social Services puts out call to action for foster families
November is “Adoption Awareness Month” in South Dakota. The need remains for adoptive and foster families in our area - a need so great the Department of Social Services is considering it a call to action.
Children and teens placed in foster care are a result of child abuse, neglect in their home, or parents and caregivers being unable to take care of their children – potentially the result of chemical dependency- an immense factor in our area and state wide.
Lisa Flemming, Regional Manager with DSS/CPS, says, “They get into a place where they can’t manage the safety of their children any longer, they are not meeting their basic needs and many of them are not meeting their own basic needs or their own emotional or mental health needs.”
If other family members can not take the children in – they go in to the custody of the state.
With over 400 children in the system and 80 foster families in the area, the demand outweighs the supply of families willing to help, and children may have to move across the state, far from anything familiar.
Andi Hemeyer Licensing supervisor with DSS, says, “We need foster families that are able to…open their hearts and their homes for the children in our community so that we can keep them in our community. They need that person to come forward and to give them love and to give them an ability to have an attachment…to have strong relationships to build their resiliency while they are working towards dealing with their family.”
With a shortage of homes, sometimes children stay the night in the DSS building.
Flemming says, “We have had to have children sleep here through the night because we don’t have a place for children. We have staff who take shifts to come in through the night and to sit with them, and to provide care for them while we are looking for a home.”
The ultimate goal is to return children to their biological parents when it is safe and in the best interest of the children, however, the court may terminate parental rights and place the child for adoption with DSS. About 16% of children in foster care get adopted. There are 81 children in South Dakota’s foster care system who are legally available for adoption.
DSS works closely with community partners to try and alleviate the growing dilemma at hand.
“But I see it’s very promising and I think we are going to have an impact on this community. We can turn those numbers around so that we don’t have so many children coming in to our custody, and then there is not a need for us to get involved with so many families,” Flemming says.
Hemeyer says that there are many preconceived notions about foster care, like age and marital status requirements, but many of those are myths. She encourages anyone thinking about becoming a foster family to call 605-221-2390 or email RFS@LssSD.org.
“We do care in our community, in South Dakota, we care – we want to build our future, we want to build strong families, that is the basis of who we are in our community and who we are in South Dakota,” adds Hemeyer.
For more information about foster care and adoption in South Dakota, click here.