NEWBERRY, S.C. — According to the SC Department of Social Services, in the Midlands, there are more than 1,000 kids in foster care. Many have to stay in the DSS's offices for extended periods of time.
In Newberry, a non-profit opened what it’s calling a safe space to make the process a lot smoother.
“Her only option was to sleep in a chair in a cubicle with her case worker. And when she told me that story that’s when it kind of clicked. I said we can do better," Jennifer Tice co-founder of LilyPad said.
Jennifer and Ben Tice recalled the night one of the foster teens the couple took in had no bed to sleep in. The teen had to sleep in the DSS office. They say that story started the non-profit LilyPad because it provides a soft place to land like the rooms it creates for foster care youth.
“To have a space specifically designated with comfortable furniture seep spaces and all the linens they need. Tv, Nintendo switch, entertainment because if they’re not in school, if their spring break or during summer they have to stay in the building,” Jennifer said.
The organization started in the spring of 2022 in Greenville County, with a room for youth there. Its latest project is providing a safe space for youth in Newberry county.
“the seventh lilypad in Newberry county. LilyPad’s only been around for about a year. And we’ve been so appreciative of their work to create these spaces that are safe comfortable environments,” Will Batchelor with DSS said.
According to DSS, in South Carolina there are more than 3,800 children in foster care. But the room also serves children traveling to the next county as well as those registered in Newberry County.
“A lot of these kids do get transported around to different parts of the state where they’re coming from the low country to the upstate," Ben Tice said.
He said the goal is to create a constant in foster child’s ever-changing circumstances.
“For those kids to be able to have at least a little consistency that if they do go from one office to another they can know okay there’ll be a lilypad there,” Tice added.
LilyPad says the goal is to provide a room like this in every county in South Carolina.