May is National Foster Care Month: More than 1,000 new foster parents needed in Georgia

May 4, 2011

It isn’t always easy being a foster parent, but as most of Georgia’s 3507 families who foster children across the state will tell you, it is also extremely rewarding. The month of May marks National Foster Care Month, and the need for foster parents in Georgia has never been greater.

Foster Care Month is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the thousands of foster families across America who are providing safe, stable, and loving homes for children and young people who are unable to live with their birth families. In Georgia, Foster Care Month gets an official start as Gov. and Mrs. Perdue, who have fostered a number of newborns over the years, issue a state proclamation and speak on the need for more foster parents at 10 a.m., Wednesday, May 5, at the Capitol.

And being a foster parent is a rewarding experience. And yes, there are challenges, but you’ll understand when you see a child bloom and grow under your care. Our foster parents will all tell you how wonderful it is to know you are making a life-long difference to a child. The guidance and nurturing you give to a foster child can mean the difference between a long, happy, and productive life – and a life that ends in prison or early death.

In Georgia, more than 14,000 children are currently in state custody, and too many must live in group homes and child-caring institutions, and sometimes in hospitals. We need more foster parents. And we need foster parents not only for newborns and toddlers, but also for teens, sibling groups, and special needs (physical and/or emotional) children.

Children in DFCS custody range in age from birth to 21; the average age is about 9. About 45 percent are white and 56 percent are African American, with the remaining 5 percent representing other ethnic backgrounds. Some children remain in foster care throughout their teen years, and nearly 3,992 young people are eligible to receive services through the Independent Living Program. The transition program prepares teens ages 14-21 for independence and adulthood.

The state is required to have a permanency plan for all children within 12 months after a child comes into care. Options include reunification, placement with other relatives or guardian, adoption or another permanent living alternative. Children currently remain in foster care for an average of 19 months, and many return to their birth families. Often, the foster parents, when reunification is not possible, decide to adopt the child permanently.

Requirements for becoming a foster parent include training, physical exams, drug screens, and criminal record checks. Re-evaluations are done annually. Foster parents are reimbursed financially, according to the age of the child, and medical treatment and clothing costs are covered by the agency.

If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, call 1-877-210-KIDS or your local DFCS County Office.

View Foster Care Month PSA with First Lady Mary Perdue

For additional media information, contact:
Elizabeth Wilson
404-656-4937
mewilson@dhr.state.ga.us
or local DFCS Director

Contact Information: 
Elizabeth Wilson 404-656-4937

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