Severe Shortage of Foster Homes Leads to Launch of New Initiative by Faith 2 Foster Collaborative

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Local event will kick-off effort by Faith 2 Foster to recruit more foster homes and support local foster families.

"Our goal is to provide this community awareness meeting to help DFCS develop more local foster homes.” - Judge John B. Sumner

"Robin" was 8 years old when she and her siblings were taken into foster care. Her two-year-old brother had wandered out onto the highway and was nearly killed in the approaching traffic. "Robin" was the caretaker of her siblings when they would be left alone for hours at a time. She loved them very much and did her very best to keep them safe, but she was just a child herself. "Robin" was placed in a home over three hours away because there were not enough homes in Cherokee County to take all three siblings. While they were separated, she spoke of all the things she missed – her teachers and friends, the neighbors who took her to Sunday school. She was afraid she would forget what her brothers looked like.

It took months to find a home willing to take all three children so they could be together, but when it happened, that reunion was critical in providing a stable, loving home and a means for the children to see their parents together regularly and to work towards a permanent reunification for their family. Today, the family is together and the foster parents who helped provide that local home are a regular support in their lives. This is one of the main goals of the Faith 2 Foster collaborative created this year.

Faith 2 Foster includes the Cherokee County Department of Children and Family Services in collaboration with the Cherokee County Juvenile Court, CASA and other local stakeholders. The new foster care initiative will launch with an event on March 12 to support foster families and to recruit more foster homes in Cherokee County so Cherokee County children can be returned home. The event will be held from 9 – 12pm at 3459 East Cherokee Drive in Canton to kick-off the initiative.

"We are facing a severe shortage of local foster homes in our community," said Judge John B. Sumner of the Cherokee County Juvenile Court and a member of the Faith 2 Foster collaborative. “Children who are removed from their home for their own safety are routinely placed in foster homes outside of our community. Many of these placements are great distances and hours away. The child is taken away from all his or her familiar surroundings: school, friends, and extended family. Our goal is to provide this community awareness meeting to help DFCS develop more local foster homes.”

The “Help Bring our Children Home” event will focus on four key areas of information:

  • Recruitment and retention of long-term foster homes;
  • Emergency care opportunities of foster children in urgent intake situations;
  • Respite care opportunities which help foster parents take breaks from foster parenting for vacations, travel restrictions, or other needs;
  • Adoption opportunities for legally available children

Foster parents make a positive difference in the lives of Cherokee County children every day. Currently, there are approximately 380 children in foster care. These children are removed from their homes because it has been determined that they are not able to safely remain with their families, but the experiences and people that surround their lives are still important to them and it is the goal of the collaborative to keep them in the county. Only 48 homes in the community are open and licensed to be foster care providers at this time. Therefore, approximately 250 children who could not be placed in a Cherokee foster home have been placed far outside the county.

Sylvia Freeman, the Region 1 Resource Development Supervisor for the Department of Children and Family Services, believes the faith-based community of North Georgia can stand in the gap. “The faith community is large in Cherokee County,” she observed. “I believe that people with servant hearts can make a huge difference right here. Our children need help, a little hope, people to love them, and a home. There is no reason why children should be leaving Cherokee County to go to homes as far south as Brunswick or to the tip of the North Georgia mountains. They deserve to stay in their local schools, churches and other activities.”

The goals of the Faith 2 Foster collaborative include recruitment of new foster families from the faith-based community and the establishment of additional support resources for foster care in the county to bring these children home. The event on March 12 will feature comments from Judge John Sumner and information from Region 1 Resource Development Supervisor Sylvia Freeman. Attendees will also hear testimonies from real foster children and foster parents and be able to get information on many different ways to support foster families in the area.

If you would like to arrange a media opportunity with any of the spokespersons for the Faith 2 Foster initiative, please contact Lisa Wheeler of Carmel Communications at 404.519.1987 or lwheeler(at)carmelcommunications(dot)com. For more information on the March 12 event, please contact Amy Blanton with Cherokee CASA at 770.345.3274 or by email at amy(at)casacherokee(dot)org.

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