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 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 fosteringfaithfully.org 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
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
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
I am Erica Cunningham, Kinship Care Coordinator for the Upstate. I have been employed with DSS for seven years. Kinship Care is a core practice at DSS. My goal is to bring more community awareness about Kinship Care. “My goal for Kinship Care would be to have more children who are not able to stay in their home placed with Kinship Caregivers so the children can stay in their communities with the people who love them instead of being placed in foster care.”
I am Chasiti D. Washington, Program Coordinator II/ Kinship Care Coordinator for the Midlands. I have been working for the Department of Social Services for 13 years. I am a key component with the development, research and implementation of Kinship. As a Kin First state, we would like to continue to educate, train, and provide more supports/resources for our kinship families. “Family is not an important thing. It is everything. -Michael J. Fox
I am Jada Moody-Davis, Program Coordinator II, Kinship Care for the Pee Dee Region. Employed with SCDSS for over 20 plus years, I strive always to embody the core principles of “competence, courage, and compassion.” I take great pride in seeing South Carolina, from its inception to now, being lauded as a “Kin First State!” After having worked in multiple areas and programs at DSS, to say I have found my home in Kinship Care is an understatement. We “meet families where they are,” providing information, support and resources helping children who are unable to live with their biological families, thrive. At our very core we work to strengthen families. I am a professional and champion for Kinship Care. Together, we will continue to make a difference as we continue to step in and step up to support, encourage, inform and engage our families, child welfare staff and partners.I always
I am Arnetta Washington, the Kinship Care Coordinator for the Low Country. I have been employed with SCDSS for 14 years. Kinship Care holds a special place in my heart. I’m still a firm believer that “It Takes A Village” and having relatives and/or fictive kin along with our agency and community to step up in a family’s time of need is what a Real Village is all about. (Multiple people coming together, for one common goal!) My hopes are that we can obtain/provide more resources and financial support for our Kinship Families, while being just as supportive to the staff. SC is a Kin First state therefore, we will continue to strive to keep our children with Familiar FACES in Familiar PLACES. #KinshipCare
The decision to become foster parents to children and youth that have endured trauma and adverse experiences for most is an overwhelming yet joyful experience. The time you have with our children and youth, whether for a few days, a few months or longer, your impact is great! It is you that provides safety, security, love, healing, hope and support to our children, youth, and their families. SCDSS is so incredibly grateful 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 for foster families accepting of tweens, teens, sibling groups and bilingual families. You are our best recruiter! Please continue to share the need with friends, families, co-workers and in your community. We have great news again this year regarding foster care board rates. The General Assembly recently approved
The South Carolina Department of Social Services has issued monthly supplemental payments to qualified foster parents since March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of the Public Health Emergency ending, the supplemental payments will also end, effective October 1, 2023. The last supplemental payment you will receive for qualified placements will be in October 2023 for eligible placements as of September 2023. We thank you for your continued commitment to the health and well-being of the children and youth of South Carolina! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact FPHelp@dss.sc.gov or call the Foster Parent Helpline at 803-898-4174. Respectfully, Dawn Barton Director Child Welfare Office of Permanency Management South Carolina Department of Social Services Dawn.firstname.lastname@example.org