CONWAY, SC (WRDW)- DSS said more kids are being put into the foster care system.
They’re working on their 90 day recruitment plan. DSS said they need 140 more foster homes here Horry County.
As a teen, Paola Torres-Ruiz bounced from foster home to foster home in Horry County.
“I understand what it’s like to pick up your trash bags and move from house to house,” said Torres-Ruiz.
That’s why she became a foster parent three years ago. She has two biological children, and currently a 1 year old and 14 year old foster daughter.
“I wanted to provide a safe happy home for every child,” said Torres-Ruiz.
There are currently 275 children in foster care in Horry County. That number is up 20 percent in just 7 months. DSS said here aren’t enough foster homes in the area, and about half the kids have to placed outside the county. Officials say Horry County’s growing population, and drugs are behind the spike in the number of children in foster care. Since 2015, the number of kids put in the system because of their parent’s drug abuse tripled.
“I’ve had infants straight from the hospital that I’ve had to go to NICU to get because they were born addicted to narcotics,” said Torres-Ruiz.
The Horry County DSS director Richard Culbertson said, “This county is one of the one’s that has the greatest struggle with opioid issues. We’re seeing situations that use to be pretty rare, but we’re seeing more because it’s so widespread.”
DSS needs more people like Paoloa Torres-Ruiz, and they’re starting to recruit more foster care parents.
“We want people to be foster parents. We want people to bring their heart and their head because we need all of those things to help achieve the outcomes we’re looking for,” said Culbertson.
Foster parents undergo training to help with behavioral issues kids face after going through trauma. Paola said she’s seen her 14 year old’s life turn around.
“Now she’s a straight a student, and she just got accepted into early college for next year. Her life right now is completely different,” said Torres-Ruiz.
Here is a link with more information on becoming a foster care parent: