Local investment firm Charleston Commercial is making a significant impact on the state’s foster care crisis. The company -- led by C. Kendrick and managing director Joshua Schaap -- donated $30, 000 to Lifeline Children's Services South Carolina, making the company the largest single donor in Lifeline’s foster care program. The donation will fund the organization’s work securing and supporting foster families.
Lifeline has three social workers and 35 foster families -- another 200 foster parents are needed in the Charleston area. Lifeline’s goal is to add 40 more foster families to its roster in 2020.
So far, this year, 43 children have been placed in foster care with Lifeline, yet across the state many more foster care families are needed. According to the S.C. Department of Social Services, as of June 30, there were 4,584 children in foster care. Of that total, 796 were in the Lowcountry region. The state recently announced it would boost the daily rate it pays foster families in an effort to curb the shortage of foster families.
Even still, the Lifeline training for foster families and the ongoing support for those families is much more rigorous and supportive, Schaap said. One Lifeline social worker trains and supports 11 foster families. Each Lifeline foster family loves and supports an average of 3.5 foster children. Therefore, for every $2,000 donated to Lifeline, a child in the Lowcountry receives needed services.
“What needs to happen is quite simple: We, as a community, need to fund Lifeline to hire and sustain 18 social workers,” Schaap said. “This would eradicate the total foster care need in the Lowcountry. That’s impactful. That’s getting a big ‘bang’ for your buck.”
A faith-based nonprofit, Lifeline Children's Services South Carolina is one of 13 state locations of Lifeline Children's Services, which is headquartered in Alabama. The organization provides a significant amount of support to its foster families both as children transition into their homes and as they leave to be reunited with their biological families. It works closely with local churches and provides parenting courses and education.
Lifeline’s commitment to resourcing foster families throughout the process is one of the reasons Schaap said he has been a long-time supporter of Lifeline Children’s Services. He also believes in funding organizations that get to the root cause of solving problems.
“If a foster child is cared for, loved and guided with an ethical compass, the chance of that child becoming a meaningful member of society is fantastic,” Schaap said. “If the child’s family receives counseling, love and support, the chances of their child re-entering the foster care system is diminished. Conversely, if a child is placed in and out of state foster care, group homes or placed back with non-functioning families, the probability of that child becoming a meaningful member of society is not equal to the former example. So, why not support Lifeline, which supports both the child, the foster family, and the birth family.”
Over the last several years, Charleston Commercial has donated more than $50,000 to Lifeline as well as donating a car for Lifeline social workers to drive when visiting foster families across the Lowcountry.
“This is the first time we have announced our giving to this organization since we began supporting Lifeline several years ago,” Kendrick said. “We hope others in the community will realize you don’t have to be super wealthy to make a tremendous impact. The fact that we remain one of Lifeline’s largest single donors in their foster care program is upsetting. There is so much wealth in this community, and people need to wake up as to what’s going on and how easy it can be to make a difference.”
Cathy Leeke, SC state director for Lifeline, added, “All of Lifeline’s services are provided to the state of South Carolina free of charge. While foster families and children receive state-funded benefits, our Lifeline staff is supported by private individuals, local businesses, churches and grants. Without support from businesses like Charleston Commercial, we could not continue our work and many more children would go without a loving foster family.”