Kim Wellman, President of the Board of Directors for Katrina’s Kids, spoke August 9 to the Optimist Club of St. Andrews-Irmo.

The foster home experience functions as a stable environment for children who have been in negative family situations from which they have to be removed. The five predominant factors for removal are: neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, loss of both parents, and parental drug abuse. Although placement in a foster home greatly stabilizes conditions for these children, they still have to deal with the stigma and developmental issues that naturally follow. Some of these issues include slower progress academically, potential failure to complete high school,  much less likelihood of attending college, and slower social development.

State Senator Katrina Shealy became aware of all these realities and decided she needed to take steps to improve the situation. So Katrina’s Kids was founded with a goal of maximizing the foster experience for South Carolina children. Kids in foster homes can get left out of the very activities they desperately need. Katrina’s Kids partners with DSS and with the individual foster homes to provide opportunities the foster families may not be able to provide. On any given day in South Carolina, there will be about 4,500 kids in foster care in our state. Factoring in children transitioning in and out of the program, over 8,000 are served in a year’s time. Based on current statistics, the average stay in a foster home is 12.6 months.

The help from Katrina’s Kids can come in a variety of forms, be they athletic uniforms, musical instruments, various registration fees, etc. Foster homes may not be in a financial position to bridge that gap, so it’s at those points that Katrina’s Kids can step in and help with funding.

Pictured are Optimist President Jay Downs and Kim Wellman, who was presented with a copy of the Optimist Creed.