According to the S.C. Department of Social Services, more than 4,500 children in South Carolina are in the foster care system.
May is national Foster Care Awareness month, and the organization uses this time to shed light on the number of foster families needed for children in the state.
One Midlands couple has been fostering children for three years, and they said they believe it has helped change their family for the better.
Becky Pressley and her husband, Matt, have housed eight foster children since May of 2015. Their fostering journey began in Charleston, then continued after they moved to Chapin. In addition to their two biological children, the Pressleys have one foster daughter who is four, and they just welcomed a second foster daughter, a one-year-old, into their home last week.
According to Pressley, she felt the initial calling when she heard about Foster Care Awareness Month on TV.
“I saw this interview on a daytime talk show and they were talking about the need for foster homes in America,” she said. Pressley mentioned she thought her husband would probably say “no way,” and she’d drop the idea. “Then he came home and I told him I thought it was something we should do, and he just said, ‘let’s do it.”
The experience has taught her family a lot, according to Pressley. “We have just grown so much in our team work, and really on our dependence of the Lord,” she said.
People have asked Becky and her husband how their children have liked growing up alongside foster children. “They’ll ask, ‘oh is it fair to your kids, having to share everything and see the coming and going,” she said. “And I say if it makes my kids more generous, and flexible, and compassionate, then that’s a win to me.”
Currently Becky and Matt are licensed to take in children from the newborn age to four years old. The longest length of time they’ve had one child has been 14 months, which is with one of their current foster daughters. The shortest time with a child has been for just 24 hours. Pressley knows many people are discouraged from fostering because they anticipate the sadness that will come when the child leaves. She said that is something she has had to move past. “What they need wins over what hurts my heart,” she said.
The Pressleys are members of Chapin Baptist Church where Becky began Love Mercy Ministry last year. The group helps acquire items for foster families across the Midlands.
“The vast majority come into foster care with no belongings at all, so we wanted to help meet that need,” she said. Becky also said her passion for helping these children has no end in sight. “They need us now, yesterday, and tomorrow,” she said.