Lowndes, Echols Co. based foster care needs your support

Donations needed for Valdosta-based foster care
Published: Jan. 5, 2023 at 7:28 PM EST
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VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - A nonprofit whose mission is to educate community partners and volunteers to meet the needs of vulnerable children is asking for help.

Called to Care of Lowndes and Echols County says in 2022, the community was great to them. But it’s a new year, and requests for foster children are already coming in.

Called to Care says there is a foster care crisis right now.

“In Lowndes County, we have over 200 kids in care currently, and that number has just been climbing. Having people partner with us financially, and just having those monthly gifts helps us be able to keep those things in stock and storage and ready to go out as soon as the need arises,” Cristina Brooks, Called to Care of Lowndes and Echols County chapter director, said.

Cristina Brooks is the Called to Care of Lowndes and Echols County Chapter Director.
Cristina Brooks is the Called to Care of Lowndes and Echols County Chapter Director.(Source: WALB)

Everything that Called to Care does for children is privately funded. Right now, they say their biggest need is beds.

“Last year in (20)22, we provided 91 beds. Just to kind of show you the growth, the year before we were the leading chapter and we had 52 beds. So that has just continued to grow. We’re in the first week of the year and we’ve already had 10-bed requests. So, it’s just — I think a lot of people end up being alarmed that there’s such a need,” Brooks said.

The organization says they are steadily providing items to children in foster care, case managers and foster parents. They say donating to them is important, and last year showed just that.

“We gave out about 118 journey bags, which are bags that are filled with pajamas, hygiene items, age-appropriate toys to kids entering foster care. We did about 150 clothing bags which are about 1200 clothing articles,” Michael Conger, Called to Care of Lowndes and Echols County community reach, said.

Michael Conger says being a part of Called to Care means a lot to him.
Michael Conger says being a part of Called to Care means a lot to him.(Source: WALB)

Called to Care wants to thank their community. They say because of the community in 2022, they were able to serve over 100 families and over 300 children.

The state of Georgia currently has more than 11,000 children in foster care, according to the Georgia Department of Human Services.

Called to Care says there are more than 200 foster kids in Lowndes and Echols Counties. They say the demand for parents is high right now.

“Having foster homes available in your community makes such an impact in those kids being able to reunify. Being able to partner with that biological family to help them walk through their case plan and help them get back together. And when that family’s having to travel hours because their kids were placed in other counties, it just causes so much more hardship,” Brooks said.

The organization says they are blessed here in Lowndes County to have multiple private agencies; Camp Rock, Choices for Life, Elks Aid and more. They say these agencies provide another layer of support to foster families.

“Statistically, if you were looking at just state foster homes, DFCS foster homes we’re at like a 10:1 ratio of kids that are coming into care in state foster homes. So having homes for our kids in Lowndes County in our community to be able to stay here and thrive here is such a need,” Brooks said.

They say the need for foster parents is more than ever now because they are serving surrounding counties also. One member says he enjoys being a part of this nonprofit.

“Called to Care is very personal for me because I spent from the time I was 17 until a little bit after I was 18 in the foster care system myself. So I know what it’s like to go through the trauma. I like to serve back by helping the kids in foster care. Being able to advocate the different needs and being able to be there,” Conger said.

Research shows that children thrive when they are placed in a home setting. Called to Care says they are encouraging people to attend their Foster Care 101 to see if they’re thinking about becoming a foster parent.

For more information on the organization and how you can get involved, click here.