What should I do if the Department of Social Services has taken my child from the custodial mother and placed in foster care?
The South Carolina Department of Social Services is working diligently to keep children with their families and out of foster care. Fathers can play a key role in helping to ensure that his child is in a safe and loving environment even when he is a non-custodial father and the child does not live with him. Fathers can be involved in developing a family treatment plan to help strengthen the family support system so that the child can live safely with the mother or father. More and more non-custodial fathers are being considered for temporary and even permanent placement when his child is removed from the custodial mother's care for abuse or neglect.
When a father learns that his child has been placed in foster care, he should contact DSS and tell them the child's name, the custodial mother's name and his name and identify that he is the biological father. A father should go to DSS and meet face to face with the caseworker as soon as possible. DSS is required to conduct a diligent search for the non-custodial parent so they may already be looking for you to seek your help and to determine if you are in a position to care for the child temporarily. It is far more beneficial for you and your child if you contact DSS Foster Care Division as soon as you have learned that the child has been removed from the custodial mother.
Depending on your situation and how long your child has been placed in foster care may affect what happens next. However, by working with DSS you may gain visitation, be involved in developing a treatment plan, gain temporary or even permanent custody, and more importantly be there for your child.
If you need assistance to gain parenting education and a stable living situation so that you may be considered for placement, contact the Fatherhood program.