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July 8, 2024To: South Carolina Licensed CPA’s & Licensed Regular Foster & Kinship FamiliesFrom: Dawn Barton SCDSS Child Welfare Services, Office of PermanencySubject: South Carolina Regular Foster Care Board Rates We are pleased to announce that the South Carolina General Assembly recently approved theregular board rates for South Carolina foster care to be increased. SCDSS is so incrediblygrateful for the sacrifices you make each day and for making the decision to support foster care.The need for more licensed foster families in South Carolina continues to grow specifically, forfoster families accepting of tweens, teens, sibling groups and bilingual families. You are our bestrecruiter! Please continue to share the need with friends, families, co-workers and in yourcommunity, we cannot do this work without you! New Board Rates Effective July 1, 2024 are as follows:

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2024 Keith A. Frazier Champion for Children Award – LaToya Reed

LaToya Reed.  We’ve had the privilege of knowing her for quite a few years and were immediately impressed by her dedication to vulnerable youth and her heart for wanting to help them succeed. As we before her morning session, she currently serves as the Director of the South Carolina National Guard Youth Challenge Academy under the Adjutant General’s Office and that she is the first female and first Black American Director since its inception in 1998.  She has led the program in the last 5 years. Previously, LaToya served as the State Coordinator for the Independent Living Program at the South Carolina Department of Social Services. She also served for almost 10 years at the Department of Juvenile Justice in many different capacities, including Assistant Chaplain, Youth Specialist, Spiritual Development Volunteer Coordinator, and Director of Volunteer Services. She completed her undergrad studies at Columbia International University (CIU) in Youth Ministry

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2024 Local Foster Parent Association of the Year – Berkeley County FPA

During difficult times, when many, if not most, Local Foster Parent Associations were not meeting at all, the foster and adoptive parents in the Berkeley Foster Parent Association were steadfast in their dedication to DSS and the needs of its people. From car seats to snacks to gift cards to air mattresses and other items, President, Cindy Bogan-Baber along with her trusty sidekick, husband Jim, and other Berkeley County foster parents, maintained support for their county office.  Berkeley County Director, Valerie Davis, told us, “The commitment and passion displayed by this very special group of community partners reflect their dedication to our children and their well-being.  We are proud to call you our partners and will continue to support you in every way!  Congratulations!” This group continues to support DSS and come together regularly for support and mentoring, while creating recruitment opportunities for new foster families as well as reach

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2024 Regional Adoption Office of the Year

It is our pleasure to recognize Upstate Adoptions as the Regional Adoption Office of the Year. While maintaining a close, almost family-like environment within the office, this team works together to consistently meet and exceed agency goals. Those working with Upstate Adoptions have expressed that the agency’s overall strength is said to be the dedication and commitment of the entire staff to finding loving, forever homes for the children who need them.   One family had this to say, “Upstate Adoptions helped us through the challenging process of adoption finalization and we will be forever grateful for the good work they do to help children and families in need. They continue to support us when challenges arise. Words will never really be able to express our appreciation for the staff at Upstate Adoptions.”

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2024 Local Agency of the Year – Chesterfield DSS

Chesterfield County DSS goes above and beyond in supporting foster parents, children, and families. They make a special effort during the Christmas season to help collect and distribute gifts to all children – not only those in foster and kinship homes, but those in treatment homes and other children in need. They provide child care for the local Foster Parent Association meeting and always offer to help. Whenever a foster family takes a child from Chesterfield County, all staff are thoughtful and considerate and always ready and willing to help in any way needed, as they are led by example. County Director, Tumeka Watson, is very approachable and sees to it that all needs are met for the benefit of the children and the families who serve them. It is our pleasure to award Chesterfield DSS as Local Agency of the Year!

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2024 SCFPA Foster Family of the Year – Jessica McGaha-Anderson County

Jessica McGaha is an Anderson County foster parent licensed through Nightline Christian Adoptions. She has served as a foster parent since 2021 and has always been a strong advocate for reunification, staying in touch with the families by email or phone calls or meeting them at a park or community event. After the children return home, Jessica often keeps in touch with the children and their family members. Maintaining sibling visits for the children she fosters is a top priority as well. The family of one child she fosters currently experienced TPR. Jessica had advocated for reunification, but when the plan changed in court to TPR, Jessica hugged the biological father showing her understanding the devastation the decision has on a parent. She and the adoption specialist are walking together alongside the child, helping her understand what is next. Jessica is active in her local Foster Parent Association, mentoring other

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Laina Shoemake

Laina Shoemake is the Coordinator of Policy and Research for the Palmetto Association of Children and Families (PAFCAF). While she is new to this field, she is not new to working with children and families who are facing challenging times. Prior to transitioning to her role at PAFCAF, Laina was a public school teacher for 18 years, serving students in lower income areas. She has twice been named Teacher of the Year and also received the honor of being named the Tech Savvy Teacher of the Year for Richland One School District. Laina holds a B.A. in Sociology and Education from Mary Baldwin College and an M.Ed. in Leadership from the University of South Carolina. Laina’s passion for ensuring that children have the best start possible in life has been evident through her work in public schools and continues to drive her work with PAFCAF. Highly Mobile Children & the

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Abby Crooks

Abby Crooks is a foster parent, public school teacher, and the founder and Executive Director of Fostering Faithfully, a nonprofit serving foster children, foster parents, kinship caregivers, and the South Carolina Department of Social Services in Oconee, Pickens, and Anderson counties.  She and her husband, Jonas, have been raising children (2-biological, 2-adopted from foster care, and 45 just for a season) the past eighteen years on a cattle farm in Oconee County. When she is not following kids around, or advocating fiercely for foster parents, Abby can be found on hiking adventures in the great outdoors. To learn more about Abby and her work, visit or check out her new book here today-Simply Available: Unfiltered Truths on the Generous Hospitality of a Foster Care Lifestyle.  You CAN Foster Long-term and Stay Sane!  Research indicates that about half of foster families quit within a year of their first placement. How can we

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LaToya Reed, MHS – Director, SC Youth ChalleNGe Academy

LaToya Reed currently serves as the Director of the South Carolina National Guard Youth Challenge Academy under the Adjutant General’s Office. The first female and first Black American Director that has led the program in the last 5 years since its inception of 1998. She previously served as the State Coordinator for the Independent Living Program at the South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS). She is also a former employee of the Department of Juvenile Justice, which she served almost 10 years in several different capacities; Assistant Chaplain, Youth Specialist, Spiritual Development Volunteer Coordinator, and Director of Volunteer Services. She completed her undergrad studies at Columbia International University (CIU) in Youth Ministry & Bible and truly enjoyed her experience as an undergrad student. She obtained her master’s degree from Liberty University in Human Services – Marriage & Family. LaToya enjoys working with youth and has over 25 years of

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Patricia Lonadier

Patricia Lonadier is a licensed professional counselor in South Carolina who has been working with children, youth, and families touched by foster care and adoption for over five years in a variety of settings. Patricia has worked in psychiatric residential treatment, outpatient therapy, and developing training for foster parents.  Patricia and her husband adopted two children through foster care, fostered others, and have one biological child. She has learned lessons the hard way and through listening and learning from people directly affected by foster care and adoption. Patricia lives in York County, loves thrifting, all things antique, the ocean, and supporting foster parents to be healthier and more grounded on their journeys.  Accessing Resources for the Foster Family  You became a foster parent to help children, but that goal can be very complicated! In this training, we will break-down some of the best ways to support the children in your care through therapy, assessment, advocacy, and

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