A new program targeting children who live with relatives will create better outcomes for children and youth in Charleston County. HALOS (Helping and Lending Outreach Support), a Charleston-based nonprofit organization, will pilot an intensive home visitation program for families in which adults are parenting the children of relatives so that the children can avoid foster care, as part of its successful Kinship Care program.
The HALOS Kinship Care Program was developed in 2008 to support grandparents and other relatives raising grandchildren in the absence of their parents through twice-monthly mutual support groups, referrals for services and educational and respite opportunities. The first of its kind in South Carolina, the program now serves more than 100 adults and 300 children annually.
When asked for suggestions for making their experience in the HALOS Kinship Care Program more beneficial, program participants responded that they would like more one-on-one help in order to become more empowered and to help the children in their care benefit as well. They have expressed interest in receiving more in-depth assistance to address issues like parenting, financial counseling, and finding resources for the children in their care.
HALOS received a grant from the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina (SOCFSC) that will make this expansion possible. This funding will help provide intensive home visitation services for up to 40 families during the next year. The home visitation program will include support such as parent education using the Parents As Teachers evidence-based curriculum, job and benefits counseling in collaboration with the South Carolina Benefit Bank, and student aid. The addition of this new program component will enhance the long-term impact of the overall Kinship Care Program by empowering caregivers to improve their parenting skills, deal appropriately with stress and obtain the resources necessary to move them toward greater financial stability. SOCFSC pioneered work with kinship care families in South Carolina by funding HALOS to start the first outreach and support effort to reach this population and has supported the evolution of the program to offer more intensive services to families in crisis.
Don Elsey, Ed.D., clinical director of the Dee Norton Lowcountry Children's Center, has seen HALOS improve lives of caregivers and children. "By providing intensive home visitation services in addition to support groups and educational activities, caregivers will have increased self-sufficiency and a more positive relationship with their children in the long term."
For information about the program, contact HALOS at 953-3715.