Serving the least among us

Published 5:00 pm Friday, August 25, 2017

The quality of a place is defined by how it takes care of its most vulnerable. Here, it’s the children of Beaufort County — those, through no fault of their own, who are exposed to abuse, neglect or violence, who may have a caregiver addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Many come from a traumatic home environment; others are newly born to mothers with an addiction to opioids and can’t be sent home to an unsafe environment.

And when the state has to step in, it’s the people of Beaufort County who have to step up.

Currently, there are 100 children in Beaufort County’s foster care system. There are also currently 32 foster households. Sixty-two children are residing in homes within the county; the others are living outside of the county, perhaps with a relative or, in the case of teenagers, in group homes. The numbers do not add up, which is why Beaufort County DSS is looking for more people willing to open their homes to children who have been temporarily removed from their own. DSS social workers want to keep these children as close to home as possible to give them a sense of normalcy in attending the same school, going to their own churches or playing with their usual friends.

Social workers, and these children, are looking for stability — a stable income and a stable living arrangement. They are looking for people who are willing to be charged with responsibility for these children’s basic needs such as food and shelter, ensuring they get to school and doctors’ appointments and visits with social workers and family members. They are seeking those who want to provide more complex needs, such as understanding and compassion and an open heart for a child in distress.

It’s challenging work to take in children whose life experiences have led up to them being removed from their biological families, regardless of reason. This is why foster parents must go through training: so they will know what to expect, and so they can decide if fostering is really for them.

Beaufort County DSS is offering that training starting Sept. 9. It’s 10 sessions, each lasting three hours.

It’s also a chance to make a positive impact on a child’s life — on a child’s future.