Home Study Requirements for Prospective Foster Parents - South Carolina

Date: August 2018

Who May Apply

Citation: Code of Regs. § 114-550

The applicants shall:

  • Be at least age 21
  • Have knowledge of the needs of children, be capable of meeting the needs of foster children, and provide adequate foster care services
  • Be capable of handling an emergency situation
  • Be cooperative with the Department of Social Services or child-placing agency staff in furthering the best interests of the child
  • Provide all relevant and factual information to the department or the child-placing agency

The applicant's income shall be reasonably secure and not dependent upon foster care boarding payments.

All applicants and household members shall submit an initial medical report by a duly licensed physician or licensed nurse practitioner verifying that such individuals are in reasonably good health, including an evaluation as to any communicable or contagious diseases.

Training Requirements

Citation: Code of Regs. § 114-550

Foster parents must each have a minimum of 14 hours of appropriate foster care preservice training that includes training on licensing requirements and expected standards of care prior to licensure. The foster parents will each subsequently be required to complete a minimum of 14 hours training each year or 28 hours prior to each subsequent relicensure.

Viewing standard television programs or reading popular news or magazine articles will not be accepted for training hours. The training shall be provided by the department or via another source that is approved by the department.

Minimum Standards for Foster Homes

Citation: Code of Regs. § 114-550

The foster family home shall be able to comfortably accommodate a foster child in addition to the foster family.

Each child in care shall be provided with his or her own bed and storage space. No child may routinely share a bed or a bedroom with an adult except for a child under age 1. Children of opposite sex sleeping in the same bed must be limited to siblings younger than age 4. Children of opposite sex sleeping in the same room must be limited to children under age 4.

No birth children of the foster family shall be displaced and made to occupy sleeping quarters prohibited in regulation because of a foster child being placed in the home.

Firearms and any ammunition shall be kept in a locked storage container except when being legally carried upon the foster parent's person; being used for educational, recreational, or defense of self or property purposes by the foster parent; or being cleaned by the foster parent.

The applicant must be able to secure/supervise access to in-ground or above-ground swimming pools and maintain adequate supervision during periods of swimming.

All pets must be kept current with rabies vaccinations and proof of such provided. Pets must not pose a safety concern.

Foster parents shall transport children in accordance with State public safety laws.

Approval Process

Citation: Code of Regs. § 114-550

All members of the household older than age 6 shall be assessed and interviewed in order to determine their willingness to accept a child and to evaluate the stability of the family unit. A minimum of one family interview and one interview per individual shall be conducted in the home with the prospective applicant, spouse, their children, and other household members.

Background checks shall be conducted, including a review of abuse and neglect history, criminal history found with the State Law Enforcement Divisions and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Sex Offender Registry.

The applicant's home and property shall be inspected by licensing or child-placing agency staff, State Fire Marshal authorities, and health authorities.

The department or the child-placing agency has the authority to request a psychological report on an applicant or household member, at the expense of the applicant, pursuant to securing information during the assessment study process that could indicate a need for professional consultation.

A minimum of three written letters of reference shall be initially obtained in regard to foster parent applicants. References should have known the applicants 3 years prior to the application and, unless specifically requested, should not be related to the applicants.

Grounds for Withholding Approval

Citation: Code of Regs. § 114-550

The applicant cannot be considered for licensure if he or she and/or any household member older than age 18 has a substantiated history of child abuse and/or neglect and/or convictions of those crimes listed in S.C. Code § 20-7-1642 and/or is listed on the Sex Offender Registry.

A license will not be issued if licensing requirements are not met or if, in the opinion of the department, it would be detrimental for children to be placed in the home.

Kinship Foster Care

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 63-7-2320; 63-7-2330; Code of Regs. § 114-550

Relatives within the first, second, or third degree to the parent or stepparent of a child who may be related through blood, marriage, or adoption may be eligible for licensing as a kinship foster parent.

The kinship foster parent must be age 21 or older, except that if the spouse or partner of the relative is at least age 21 and living in the home and the relative is between age 18 and 21, the department may waive the age requirement.

A person may become a kinship foster parent only upon the completion of a full kinship foster care licensing study. Residents of the household who are age 18 or older must undergo State and Federal fingerprint reviews. The department shall apply the screening criteria in § 63-7-2350 to the results of the fingerprint reviews and the licensing study.

The department shall determine, after a thorough review of information obtained in the kinship foster care licensing process, whether the person is able to care effectively for the foster child.

When the department places a child with a relative who is licensed to provide foster care, the agency must provide the same services and financial benefits as provided to other licensed foster homes.

In regulation: Relatives being licensed must be licensed in accordance with the same requirements as nonrelative applicants. The department may waive nonsafety elements for relatives or nonrelatives on a case-by-case basis, as appropriate. Safety elements such as history of child abuse/neglect and State and/or Federal criminal history checks must not be waived. The department must note on the standard license if there was a waiver of a nonsafety element and identify the element being waived.

Relatives are given preference in placement options provided such placement is in the best interests of the child.

Foster to Adopt

Citation: Code of Regs. § 114-550

Foster parents may apply to adopt a foster child. Foster families who have been approved for adoption will be given first consideration for the adoption of a foster child under the following conditions:

  • The child has been in the same foster home for a consecutive 6 months period of time or more.
  • The child is legally free for adoption.
  • Placement for adoption with the foster family is deemed to be in the best interests of the child.

Interjurisdictional Approval

Citation: Ann. Code § 63-9-2200

Any out-of-home placement of a child outside the State is subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

The child shall not be sent into the receiving State until the appropriate public authorities in the receiving State notify the sending agency, in writing, that the proposed placement does not appear to be contrary to the interests of the child.

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