PIERRE – Governor Kristi Noem has proclaimed September 2022 as Kinship Appreciation and Awareness Month in South Dakota. Kinship care is an arrangement in which relatives or other adults who have a significant emotional relationship with the children provide parenting and care when a child’s parents cannot.
In South Dakota, nearly 500 children who are in the temporary custody of the Department of Social Services (DSS) live with or are cared for by other family members or close family friends. The arrangement enables the child’s family to work on overcoming circumstances that make the child unsafe at home.
“Kinship caregivers help reduce trauma and increase stability for children when their family is in crisis,” said DSS Cabinet Secretary Laurie Gill. “Being cared for by relatives or other significant adults in their life helps children maintain a sense of family belonging and identity, during what can be emotional and uncertain times.”
Kinship care is the preferred placement for children who must be removed from their families to be safe. Although licensure is not a requirement to provide kinship care through DSS, some kinship families have chosen to become licensed foster parents.
DSS works alongside our state’s families, tribes, and public and private agencies to help ensure children have the support they need to be successful. When children are cared for by other family members, it improves their wellbeing, preserves sibling ties, and promotes permanency in the child’s life.
The goal of foster care is for families to make changes so the children can safely return home. Kinship caregivers can help with plans for reunification with the child’s birth family. When that is not possible, they can assist with adoption, guardianship, or the child’s transition into adulthood.
“DSS believes strong families are the foundation and future of our state,” said Gill. “Family members caring for another family member’s children in a time of need is what strong families do. Our families are stronger when we support each other.”
To learn more about becoming a foster parent, visit StrongerFamiliesTogether.sd.gov.