Where do the children residing at the home come from?
The children we serve come from all counties throughout South Carolina and are placed in our care by agencies such as; SC Dept of Social Service (DSS), SC Dept of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), Continuum of Care (COC) and SC Dept of Mental Health (DMH). Most of the children have been abused (sexually and physically, both males and females), abandoned and neglected, regardless of which agency placed them in our care. All of the children placed by DJJ have been in trouble to some extent; however, most all of them have experienced the same issues as the children placed by DSS, but used the only survival skills they knew, which led them to trouble. Our home is usually the first place these children experience an adult in their home caring for them and providing structure and stability. We receive children from all over the state because it is common practice to place a child that has been physically and sexually abused away from the county in which they previously resided. This protects the child from discrimination and possible further abuse.
Are you a state agency or state affiliated?
The Lancaster Children’s Home, Inc is a private non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that was established in 1963. Since we are private non-profit, we are not considered a state agency or affiliation. We must constantly rely on the public’s generosity to sustain the high level of care for our children. We are licensed and audited by the state to remain in business and must adhere to all state standards in the care of our children. We pride ourselves in providing more than what the state requires in our care such as problem solving sessions for the children and their families. We offer individual and group problem-solving sessions as well as parenting classes for the families. When there is a possibility of reunification with a child’s family, we believe that we must help the families as a whole in order to be of service to the individual child.
How are you funded?
We receive nominal funding from DSS, DJJ, COC and DMH. Due to state budget cuts, the amounts received have had a steady decrease over recent years (sometimes as much as 18% at the time). We rely on outside sources such as fundraising events, grants, and private donations to provide food, special recreational activities, clothing, educational field trips, school supplies and other expenses such as cold medicine, first aid supplies, personal hygiene products, etc.
Do you use the children to promote your organization?
It is LCH’s policy not to exploit our children to promote the organization. We gladly allow the children to attend any function we/they are invited to as long as they are not used to promote the home in any way. It is our #1 priority to protect the children’s confidentiality and to protect the children from further abuse. We do believe that allowing the children to attend different functions allows us to better help them become more social and productive members of society.
Can I photograph or video the children?
You may not photograph or video the children due to confidentiality, contract agreements with placing agencies and any other laws that we are governed by.
What are your volunteer requirements? Is there a minimum number of volunteer hours per month or year?
The only requirements we ask of our volunteers is, of course, to have a clean background record and to agree with the confidentiality statement, discipline agreements and all other policies and procedures of the home. Patience and understanding is a must in order to gain the trust of the children we serve. We do not require a minimum number of volunteer hours per year, but hope that you consider how much time you have to dedicate during the upcoming year prior to submitting the application and background forms. The vetting process is conducted annually for all volunteers and employees, as required by licensure. This can be time consuming for you and is an expense for our agency. We appreciate any time that volunteers can offer to our program and ask that you contact our office to schedule your volunteer time at least a couple of months prior to your scheduled volunteer time.
What are the most important ways that I can actively be of benefit to your organization?
Mentoring one or two children works wonders! Assisting with fundraising events (not just monetarily, we need man power and word of mouth), assisting our staff with chaperoned activities and helping prepare for special functions and other events.
What ongoing needs do you have?
We keep a current “list of needs” on file. Beautification of the homes is important so planting flowers and laying pine straw or donating mums and other seasonal decorations is necessary in keeping our homes feeling like “home” for the children. We always need funding for recreational activities, field trips and fast food gift cards are great in providing meals for outside activities. If we are able to keep the children involved in community activities, they feel a part of something and strive harder to do better in school and in their personal lives. You may want to consider being a birthday sponsor by providing birthday cards and $10 Wal-Mart gift cards to acknowledge a child’s birthday. Every child should feel special, especially on their birthday. Another consideration may be to sponsor a birthday cake. Oftentimes, what we provide is the only acknowledgement they receive.
What age children do you serve?
Currently, we have middle through high school aged children (we house up to 14 boys and up to 18 girls). We are licensed to serve ages 8 through 21 as long as the child is in school. Even though we are licensed to serve children 8 to 12 years of age, we often see this age group placed in foster care. Typically, our average age is 15 or 16 years.
How are clothing and supplies provided?
Only the children referred to our agency by DSS receive a clothing allowance of $100 per quarter. Those monies usually do not arrive when needed nor do they cover the expenses of clothing children that are growing from season to season. For that reason, we accept the responsibility of making sure the children have enough clothes, uniforms, shoes, and undergarments for school. We will also purchase coats and other winter supplies (gloves, hats, scarves, toboggans, etc.) as that time approaches if we do not receive enough donations to cover each child.
What are the children’s sizes?
The children’s sizes vary depending on our census on any given date. If you are buying specific clothing items to meet a need for a child, please call a few days ahead to allow time to gather the size information. If buying in bulk or donating clothing items, please keep in mind we have teenagers that range in sizes from XS to XXL.
What schools do your children attend?
While residing at LCH, the children attend Lancaster County Public Schools, Adult Education and USC-L, while some are considered homebound and receive tutors from LCSD. Some children come into our care too far behind in high school in the number of earned credits and are able to enter the YouthBuild program, learning a trade while working on sites within the Lancaster community and preparing for the GED.
Are the children allowed to participate in extracurricular activities?
If any of our children demonstrate interest in participating in extracurricular activities, they are allowed to do so as long as they have good behaviors at the home and at school.
What activities are provided and how are they funded?
The children enjoy playing any kind of ball and when the schedule permits, they attend local school sporting events. Outings such as bowling, skating and movies (dollar movies) are usually inexpensive and are enjoyed once per month or so, but some activities can be very expensive. We must rely on donations and fundraising events to cover expenses for these outings. A few area churches have invited some of our residents to play basketball and softball on their teams from time to time. We try to stay abreast of community activities and arrange for the children to attend as much as possible in efforts to expose them to a variety of new experiences, as well as teach them how to conduct themselves in social and public settings. Many of these activities are often provided to our children and staff free of charge or are advertised as free events. Special outings like Carowinds and Scarowinds are only for those children meeting behavioral requirements and gives others a goal to strive for in their behaviors.
Can I take a child home with me or out for the day?
Only approved volunteers, with proper advanced scheduling, are allowed to take a child or two off campus for a visit, activity or event. Visits are only for the day, as overnight stays are not allowed. This must be scheduled in advance and approved with the child’s case manager. Many factors determine whether a child is able to leave campus for the day, including the child’s time in care, schedule, current behaviors and level within the program.