“Part of our life.” Bill and Christy Anderson have a desire to help vulnerable children

Bill and Christy Lynn Anderson have a heart for children and those who are vulnerable. That desire to help led them to a decision to foster to adopt a couple of years ago.

But after not having much luck with finding a placement, the couple decided to pivot and become foster parents in LSC’s Transitional Foster Care for Unaccompanied Children Program after seeing a post about it on Facebook.

“When we signed up at DSS (South Carolina Department of Social Services) we originally didn’t want to be foster parents. We didn’t want to get attached to children and give them back,” Christy Lynn Anderson said. “With LSC it was fostering, but it was such a short time, and the kids are going to good places when they leave us. We decided it would be a good fit and less of a stress on our family as well since our kids are teen and pre-teen age.”

Unaccompanied children are minors under the age of 18 who are not in the care of a parent or legal guardian and lack immigration status. They make the treacherous journey to the United States in hopes of reuniting with family members. Most of the children come from Central America, predominantly Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. Because of their undocumented status, they are sometimes placed in detention centers or other shelter-like facilities.

LSC’s Transitional Foster Care, which operates in the Columbia, S.C. area, offers these children placement in a much more welcoming and loving setting with foster families.

During this transitional period of 20 to 90 days, the children live in the home with their foster family and attend a school sponsored by LSC. A developmentally appropriate curriculum is offered on-site by a certified teacher who will help them with English, acculturation, and transitioning in the public school system upon their release from the LSC program.

The Andersons live in Blythewood, South Carolina. Bill Anderson is a teacher and Christy Lynn Anderson works for an insurance agency. Since starting with the program in August 2022, the couple have had three placements and served as respite parents for two more. They say all the children have been fun and exciting.

“I’ve enjoyed the whole process. We take them to the store to get clothes, then take them to school and they meet their teacher and classmates. They just become part of our life for that time period,” Bill Anderson said. “We give little picture books to each kid as they leave, and we keep one as well. They know they can look back and remember their time with us.”

Christy Lynn Anderson said that if someone is on the fence about foster care, then this program is perfect.

“It’s the easiest way to foster because you know it’s probably only going to last two weeks. You do really bond with them, but you know they are going to a good place so it’s easier to let go of them,” she said. “And they go to school every day, so you have people (LSC teammates) to communicate with daily. They are there to support us.”

“I firmly believe that we are serving in a great place. I don’t know how to put it into words, but this is something we both feel is good to do, and to see the pictures and the videos of the children being reunified with family is just so neat,” Bill Anderson added. “It’s just a wonderful way to serve a population that needs it.”