Due to the spread of COVID-19 and to ensure the protection of the health and safety of South Carolinians, Center for Child and Family Studies staff members are working remotely. The best way to reach us is by email.

Walkers Ext 0431 sqKinship Care is the 21st century name for a tradition as old as humanity: children living safely with “kin” when their birth parents are unable to care for them. The South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) seeks to increase the number of kinship caregivers and kinship foster homes in our state, and the Center is ready to further that mission.

The Center brings a great skill to DSS’s aid: multidimensional storytelling. Through fresh custom art, polished new text, and video interviews with caregivers, the Center’s Instructional Design and Production (ID&P) Team brings the experiences of kinship caregivers vividly to South Carolinians.

Fundamental to the campaign are the stories of the Kinship Caregivers themselves. Two of the Center’s instructional designers, Claire Houle and Chris Koslowski, conducted on-camera interviews with kinship caregivers, kinship foster parents, and DSS employees to capture their first-hand experience.

Leslie Gore is a kinship foster parent who took in her granddaughter. Larry and Sarah Walker took in their niece. Daryl McCully also took in his granddaughter. Kim Hall took in the granddaughter of a man who works for her. Their stories differ greatly except for one part: they all took in children they’re connected to, rather than have the children go to strangers in foster care. And all of them were suddenly faced with making the decision about taking in a child they hadn’t planned on raising.

“People tell me I’m a saint for taking her in,” says Sarah Walker. “I’m not a saint. I’m just a person caring for her family.” Likewise, Kim Hall sees herself as part of a network helping a child: “No one person can save a family. You do your part and let people help you along the way.”

Images anchor the campaign and are a crucial piece of the stories. Graphic designer Ansley Green chose the flagship images for the new campaign by focusing on images that express moments in time in Kinship Care. “Kinship Care doesn’t always look the way we imagine it looks,” she says. “I created images that tell about how a life in Kinship Care can look. How people who know and care about a child can step into their lives and bring safety and security.”

Many Kinship Care stories are quiet, happening all around us but going unremarked. By amplifying the tales of people caring for children who are not their own, we hope people will recognize their own story, or the story of someone they know, and go to DSS for needed support. The Center is proud to partner with DSS in the creation of this new media campaign, knowing the benefit it will bring to the children of our state.

Pictured above: Sarah and Larry Walker participate in photo shoot for media campaign