SC Thrive | Streamlining access to benefits for thousands of South Carolinians a year
Too often, resources are available to help residents have access to health care, food and other needed assistance and benefits, but they don’t know about them or how to get them.
In addition to connecting residents to benefits, SC Thrive also:
- Offers Mental Health First Aid training to provide awareness and education about mental health. The agency trains people to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health issues and offers guidance on helping provide help.
- Works with the S.C. Department of Corrections to help inmates before their release be prepared to re-enter society.
- Assisted 8,775 residents with their tax preparations last year, netting $8 million in refunds. The assistance is available for single filers with $65,000 income or less or married couples with combined income of $95,000 or less.
- Provides annual training for its partners and others who serve the public. The ninth annual “Go Big” training will be offered Oct. 3-4 in Myrtle Beach.
That’s where SC Thrive comes in. The non-profit helps streamline the application process for those benefits and trains workers and volunteers across the state to help residents learn about and apply for those resources.
“It’s efficient for case managers connecting clients to resources. It’s efficient because the process is simple and online. And it’s efficient for the client themselves. They don’t have to go to four or five agencies to take care of their basic needs,” said Stephanie McGuire, chief community relations officer at SC Thrive.
SC Thrive, a partner in the Tidelands Community Care Network, formed a decade ago as a program known as Benefit Bank of South Carolina managed by the state Office of Rural Health. The program came about after officials determined residents weren’t taking advantage of millions of dollars in available federal benefits that could help them have access to health care, food or other basic services.
The program grew quickly and became a non-profit in 2014. It focuses on helping residents have access to food, health care and financial wellness. It also pairs veterans with resources, helps raise awareness and lessen the stigma associated with mental health issues and prepares tax returns for about 9,000 South Carolina residents annually.
The non-profit also trains agencies and organizations throughout the state and provides technology to help them identify potential benefits for their clients and help them apply. SC Thrive has about 400 partners throughout the state, including hospitals, churches, food pantries and others.
“What we’ve done is partner with community-based organizations, faith-based organizations to give them access to our support tools,” McGuire said. “We cannot do what we do without our partners.”
Last year, SC Thrive trained about 3,400 partners in the state, who use that knowledge to help their clients – including seniors on fixed incomes and veterans – access benefits to help meet their basic needs and improve their lives. SC Thrive has completed about 235,000 applications for benefits such as SNAP and Medicaid since it formed.
“If we did not exist, thousands of South Carolinians would not have the resources they currently have because the barriers they face can be insurmountable to them,” McGuire said.
SC Thrive is one of about 25 partners in Tidelands Community Care Network, which was created by Tidelands Health in partnership with Access Health SC and The Duke Endowment. The network is comprised of health educators, state agencies, transportation providers, primary and specialty care providers and others who can help uninsured and underinsured residents gain access to medical care.
“SC Thrive plays an important role in helping pair residents with access to the resources they need through a streamlined, online process that helps eliminate the barriers residents have in accessing that assistance,” said Kelly Kaminski, director of community health resources for Tidelands Health.