The South Carolina Heart Gallery was established in 2005 by Millie Qualls, then a Foster Care Review Board coordinator and a former SC Department of Social Services adoption specialist. After consulting with FCRB leadership & DSS Adoption regional offices, Qualls coordinated photographers, photo shoots, and exhibits, all as a volunteer.
In 2008, based on encouraging results for participating children and an increase in referrals, FCRB and DSS entered into a contract to fund the program, and it became Qualls' full-time position within the FCRB.
Today, the program continues recruiting photographers, coordinating photo shoots, and arranging exhibits around the state. Photos and videos are available on the program’s website (scheartgallery.sc.gov) and community exhibits can be found around the state.
Resulting inquiries are managed by Heart Gallery staff in two ways:
- Families new to the process are assisted with information and the initial application
- Families already approved may have their adoptive home study screened to determine if they are a potential match for a specific child. Potential matches are forwarded to the DSS Adoption worker for follow-up.