COLUMBIA, South Carolina – Governor Henry McMaster has signed a bill that will allow the state to draw down federal funding to provide for an extended, voluntary foster care program when a child ages out of foster care on their 18th birthday.

According to the release, South Carolina is currently operating a state-run program entitled the Chafee/ETV Program, which is funded with 100% state funds for youth aged 18-21 that have aged out of foster care, and that program provides opportunities for young people transitioning into adulthood including funding services and support for youth.

The release also states that In the current state-funded program, South Carolina Department of Social Services (SCDSS) is serving 164 youth as of May 1st, who have voluntarily signed themselves back into care, and the services provided to these youths include assistance with housing, transportation, education/training, case management, and preparing these youth for the transition to adulthood.

Officials say that by adding this statute change into state law, South Carolina will be able to draw down federal Title IV-E dollars to help fund this program.

The Palmetto State Governor was joined by SCDSS Director Michael Leach and members of the General Assembly for the ceremonial bill signing

“By providing additional resources to our youth aging out of foster care we significantly increase their chance of success in adulthood and create a brighter future for all of South Carolina,” says Governor Henry McMaster. “This legislation will greatly improve the outcomes of our foster care system and I applaud Director Leach for his efforts in getting this legislation across the finish line.” 

“We are so excited about today’s signing,” says SCDSS Director Michael Leach. “Extending foster care until a youth’s 21st birthday, through this voluntary program, means invaluable added assistance for our youth as they begin to go out on their own. That support is crucial to making sure they get the strong start they need to be successful and productive adults. Today is just the beginning of their story and their future.”

Officials say that the Extension of Foster Care expansion, and obtaining the corresponding federal money available to fund this program has been a top legislative priority of SCDSS.