In communities across America, relatives and foster families are caring for abused and neglected children who are not safe in their own homes. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as of September 30, 2011, more than 400,000 children nationwide were placed outside their homes47 percent with foster families, 27 percent with relatives, 15 percent in institutions or group homes, and 12 percent in other living arrangements.1 These figures only represent children who were formally placed by child welfare agencies. In fact, as many as 2.7 million children are being raised by grandparents, other relatives, and close family friends through informal arrangements.2 Although foster parents and kinship caregivers generally receive compensation from child welfare agencies for the cost of supporting the children in their care, the payments are often insufficient to meet the children's needs. Helping and Lending Outreach Support (HALOS) is a nonprofit community-based organization in Charleston County, South Carolina, that was created to fill this critical gap for children.
1 Child Welfare Information Gateway (2013). Foster Care Statistics 2011. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children's Bureau. Available online at www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/foster.cfm.
2 Stepping Up for Kids: What Government and Communities Should Do to Support Kinship Families (2012). Baltimore, MD: The Annie E. Casey Foundation