South Carolina foster care and adoption guidelines

Thanks for your interest in adoption and/or foster care. If you are interested in becoming a foster or adoptive parent, contact Heartfelt Calling at 888-828-3555 or complete an initial online Prospective Adoptive Parent or Foster Parent Interest Form.  

Para información en español, contacte: 888-828-3555, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

On this page:

Foster care and adoption licensing requirements

Criteria and steps for becoming a foster and adoptive parent:

  • Applicants must be at least 21 years old.
  • Contact Heartfelt Calling at 888-828-3555 or complete an initial online interest form.
  • Complete and return application to the regional office that serves your resident county.
  • Complete SLED/ fingerprints and child abuse central register releases on all members of household 18 years and older.
  • Attend 14 hours of preparatory training to help with self-evaluation of the types of children which would fit into your family. (If you want to adopt, there will be four more hours of training.)
  • Fire and sanitation inspections completed on home by the Fire Marshal and DHEC.
  • Home visits: specialist visits the home and completes interviews for pre-placement investigation.
  • Three to four references received and interviewed by specialist.
  • Medicals are required on all family members.
  • Provide copies of birth certificates, marriage license, and divorce petitions and decrees if applicable.
  • During assessment family and agency assess qualifications and readiness.
  • Approval received and family considered for children along with other approved and waiting families.

If you want to adopt, the process also includes:

  • Placement committee selects family and notifies family and family is presented full background on children for whom family is selected.
  • Family meets child and begins visitation with child.
  • Placement occurs when child and family are ready for move.
  • Postplacement period begins and can continue up to 12 months.
  • Finalization of the adoption in family court.
  • Adoption preservation services are available upon request after the finalization of the adoption. Adoption is a lifelong process, counseling and other referral services may be available to the family as needed and requested by the family.

Foster and adoption costs

The department does not charge a fee to become a licensed foster parent or adoptive parent. The family is required to show sufficient income to meet the needs of their family and any additional children placed in the home. Each family must complete a physical exam which is at the expense of the family. Should there be issues which prevent licensure identified in the fire and sanitation inspections, those repairs are at the expense of the applicant before proceeding with the study process.

An attorney is required at the time of the legal finalization of the adoption. If the child adopted is a special needs child, the family may be eligible to receive some reimbursement of those legal fees.

South Carolina also has private adoption agencies licensed to place children for adoption. Each agency sets their fee schedule.

Agency contact and orientation information

For the list of licensed private agencies and certified investigators, please call Heartfelt Calling: 888-828-3555.

Parent support groups

DSS has contracted with the South Carolina Foster Parent Association to provide services such as information, referrals, and training for adoptive parents. These services include a hotline dedicated to assisting adoptive parents who need information or assistance in supporting and parenting their children. Upon calling the hotline, an adoption support staff member will discuss with a family any needs they have and connect them with needed information and make referrals to community organizations and agencies that can assist.