International expert, author headlines Thornwell Foster Care Conference

International foster-care expert and author John DeGarmo, who has a doctorate in educational leadership, will be the keynote speaker at the second annual Thornwell Foster Care Conference, slated for 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Sept. 15 at the First Baptist Church in Simpsonville.

DeGarmo’s keynote address, “Facing Challenges and Reaping Rewards,” will highlight the various challenges that foster parents face, and examine the rewards of being a foster parent. The purpose of the presentation is to reassure, motivate, and inspire foster parents to continue to care for children in need.

“Foster care is in crisis in our nation,” DeGarmo said in a news release. “There is an increase in the number of children being placed into foster care not only in South Carolina, but nationwide, due much in part to the opioid crisis that is strangling our country.” Currently, there are 1,459 children in foster care in the Upstate and only 616 foster homes, according to the release. More than 500 additional foster homes are needed.

“The critical need for foster homes prompted Thornwell to start a new foster care program last year to recruit, train, and support foster families in Upstate South Carolina,” Thornwell’s president Elliot Smith said in the release.

The complete conference pass is $40 and includes breakfast, lunch, snacks, drinks, and full access to DeGarmo’s online training. Tickets for the keynote luncheon only are $20. Registration is available at