TIFTON, Ga. (WALB) - The COVID-19 pandemic has presented new challenges for several areas of social service, including child foster care, however, one nonprofit is still making sure children find homes.
Since 2013, Called to Care has been working in Tift County and throughout Southwest Georgia to help provide resources and information for foster parents or those who are thinking of becoming them.
Despite the pandemic, Called to Care said taking things virtual has expanded their outreach.
“But now with them being on Zoom, and we have one facilitator, people are able to log in from all over South Georgia. We even have people logging in from North Florida and the course is absolutely free,” said Laura Maxwell, Called to Care executive director.
Maxwell and Called to Care work alongside the ministry of the First Baptist Church in Tifton. Their next virtual Foster Care 101 session is Thursday night. Maxwell said one of the goals of these sessions is to emphasize the need for more foster homes.
“The majority of the training is actually to talk to them about the need, like how many children we have in foster care right now. We have just a little over 1,000 children in foster care in our region, and to talk to them about the need for foster homes. Right now, we only have 160 homes serving that large population of children,” Maxwell said.
The pandemic has raised issues in the foster care world, Maxwell pointed out, specifically, when it comes to reports of children who may be in need.
“Teachers are one of our biggest advocates for children. And also, some of the biggest ones who call in reports of any suspected neglect or abuse. And because school was out and had been out for so long, we saw the number of children in foster care dramatically start to drop," said Maxwell.
To register for Thursday’s virtual Foster Care 101 session, click here.