COLUMBIA --- South Carolina is getting a federal grant to help foster children turning 18 make an easier transition into adulthood and expand a United Way phone program to help people find social services.
Part of the $750,000 grant will help the state Department of Social Services try to keep some children out of foster care.
"For example, if grandma says, 'I can keep the twins but I don't have a bed,' the navigator would look around and maybe find there's a church that can provide a bed," said Katie Morgan, the department's chief of staff.
About $130,000 from the grant will go to expand the United Way's 2-1-1 phone system. The hot line helps people get information on various social services, such as finding a job, affordable housing, counseling or health care.
Some of the money will go to finding mentors for children aging out of foster care.
Those teens often find themselves without anyone to help them with several major adult decisions, such as setting up their first checking account or figuring out the best way to pay for their education.
The program will match them with a teacher who might have taken interest in the child a few years before, or a family member who couldn't care for a young child but could be there now.
"It is some place to go for the life skills that, traditionally, parents would give," said Louise Cooper, the director of the South Carolina Guardian Ad Litem program, which will help DSS.
Ms. Morgan said it is a critical program to make sure children who have had problems growing up get a good start into adulthood.