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Foster Care Crisis: Hundreds of foster kids in South Georgia placed in hotels

Video from WALB
Published: Jun. 8, 2022 at 12:33 AM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - In the six months leading up to May 12, 2022, Laura Maxwell, founder and executive director of Called to Care, says nearly 100 foster children in Region 11 were placed in hotel rooms instead of a foster home.

Division of Family & Children Services - DFCS (Region 11)
Division of Family & Children Services - DFCS (Region 11)(DFCS)

Called to Care is a nonprofit active in 22 south Georgia counties. They provide support, clothing, toiletries, and grants to the region’s foster and adoptive community.

Maxwell says that in a monthly report she receives from the Department of Family and Children Services (DCFS), it was noted that some children have been staying in a hotel room, eating takeout for dinner, for at least 150 days.

Some argue these numbers are due to the pandemic. Adrian Rivers, the C3 coordinator with DCFS, says this is something he’s never experienced.

“Because what we’re seeing is somewhat we’re facing is something we’ve never faced before,” said Rivers. “And that’s not being able to tell the community what we need and get them involved. Because we were all pulled apart. And we weren’t in connection with each other. And we weren’t going to events together. And so that disparity just increased day by day.”

Rivers says the most important thing is to keep foster children in the same area so they can keep a level of familiarity with teachers, clubs, and churches.

“The biggest thing that I want people to know is that when a kid is no longer allowed to be in their home, they should stay in their communities,” Rivers said. “It’s major to stay with their same school teacher, to go to the same church be in the same youth group to continue going to the Boys and Girls Club, they’ve always gone to. And if we can step in as a community, and we can have the community to step up and help us with this issue, then we’re going to make sure that these children continue to have environments where they can thrive.”

Below is a look at the number of children in the Georgia foster care system from 2011 to 2020:

“I would say the biggest benefit is being able to love these children well,” Maxwell says. “Just the rewards from entering to brokenness. Loving them well. As a mother of children who’ve had children in care in my home. Showing my children how we love people well. In my home, I hope I’m raising defenders of people. Defenders of the gospel. We don’t run from people’s brokenness; we step into it. That’s how we make our world another place.”

Here are some steps for those interested in becoming a certified foster parent:

  • Attend Foster Care 101 (either in person or online)
  • Select the Child Placing Agency that best fits your family
  • Complete Background Check
  • Attend Your Agency’s Training
  • Complete Home Study
  • Start Receiving Placements

Called to Care is collaborating with Bridge 11 and other placing agencies to educate people on fostering in a “no pressure” environment. Maxwell says it’s a great opportunity for potential parents to get their questions answered.

To register for an in-person or via Zoom meeting with Called to Care, click here.

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