LETTER FROM CHAIR
Dear fellow South Carolinians,
South Carolina has an urgent and growing problem that impacts our judicial, penal, educational and health care systems as well as our economy, quality of life and taxes. It affects everyone one of us because it contributes to all the societal ills that bring our communities down and keep our state from prospering. The problem is the thousands of ‘homeless’ children – those who are growing up in foster care in South Carolina.
Every day in our state, children are abused, neglected and abandoned. Through no fault of their own, but because their birth families are unable or unwilling to provide them a safe environment, these hurt children are removed by law enforcement from the homes they know and placed into the foster care system — a system that is seriously flawed.
Right now, more than 5,400 children are in the SC foster care system. And if they remain there a full year, chances are they’ll experience four birthdays in four different homes before moving to a forever home or ‘aging out’ of the system. That means change after change of schools, health care, friends and neighbors – no wonder they’re at increased risk for psychological disorders, teen pregnancy, lack of high school diploma, homelessness and living below the poverty line. Last year, 3,000 of our young people remained in care, and more than 400 emancipated or turned 18 – with no place to call home. It is a tragedy, for these young people and for all of us in SC. Because unless we take care of them now and prepare them to be stable and productive, we could be taking care of them for the rest of their lives.
That’s why Children Come First was created. Members of our board and advisory committee are passionate about the idea that every single child deserves a ‘forever’ home, a place to feel safe and be nurtured. They also understand the cost to South Carolina if we don’t achieve that goal.
Please join us in our effort to educate the public and policymakers about the urgency and scope of this problem – SC’s hidden ‘homeless’. Talk to your friends and neighbors about the realities of children in foster care and the inadequacies of our system, because shedding light on a problem is the first step toward solving it. Do it today. Our children and our state are depending on you.
George Milner, Chairman