You can help a foster child
May is National Foster Care Month.
The designation is intended to raise awareness of and focus on the thousands of Georgia children who need loving foster care, and the great need for additional foster homes.
In Coweta, there has always been a shortage of foster homes. Because of that, many local children who can no longer live with their families are having to be placed in other counties — away from everything they know. That is simply not right.
Having to go into foster care “can be even more tragic when kids are uprooted from all things familiar,” said Traci Corné of Coweta Court Appointed Special Advocates. “Home, school, church, friends — not even the geography of a car ride is familiar,” she said. “Kids hang on to all things familiar — even where the adults in their lives run their errands.”
Even worse, some children are separated from their brothers and sisters because there aren’t enough foster homes willing to take sibling groups. It’s bad enough to be taken from your parents for your own good. To also be separated from your siblings is something no child should ever have to experience.
The biggest need is always for foster homes willing to take sibling groups and older children — those over 9 or so, and teenagers. Far too many teenagers spend their last few years of childhood in institutional settings. And when they “age out” of foster care, there may be no one they can count on or go back to.
Foster parents can be trained through the Coweta Department of Family and Children’s’ Services, but there are also private agencies that train foster parents and then contract with DFCS. Those agencies provide additional support services to the foster parents. Three Georgia agencies are Families First (www.familiesfirst.org or 404-853-2800), Faithbridge Foster Care (www.faithbridgefostercare.org or 678-690-7100) and the United Methodist Children’s Homes (www.umchildrenshome.org or 404-327-5864). You can contact Coweta DFCS at 770-254-7234.
Faithbridge specifically partners with churches to create small group networks known as a “community of care.”
You never know how long any foster child may stay in your home. But “even if it is only for a short time, you can significantly impact a child’s life just by providing a loving and stable and nurturing home to them,” said Sandra Roberts of Families First.
Becoming a foster parent isn’t the only way you can help children in foster care. There are other opportunities, from buying Christmas presents to tutoring or offering “respite care” for foster parents. You can also become a CASA. CASA are assigned to act as advocates for children throughout the legal and foster care process. For more information, visit www.cowetacasa.org or call 770-253-0046.
The website www.fostercaremonth.org lists other ways to get involved.
Recently, the East Coweta Beta Club collected toiletries and personal care items for foster children, which were made into kits.
“When you are at a new foster home, that’s the stuff that you are searching for,” said Corné.
Hopes are to eventually start a program to provide backpacks or suitcases to local foster children “so they don’t have to put their things in trash bags,” Corné said.
As a community, it’s important we help those less fortunate. Foster kids don’t want to be foster kids. They want real homes and real people in their lives. To those foster parents, we say thank you. To the rest, review the information above and see where you can help out.
It’s up to us to help them.