Member Update June 4, 2018

Community Connection's foster parent receives Foster Caregiver Award

Sharon Brooks, Community Connections foster parent, received recognition at the 3rd Annual Foster Caregiver Awards Luncheon held May 21. Private Providers appreciate the opportunity to be included in this DFCS special event.  DFCS accepts one nomination from each provider group--Together Georgia, GATS, MAAC, and FFTA. Together Georgia is honored to have Sharon Brooks recognized as our nominee. 

Sharon Brooks has worked with great professionalism in collaboration with Community Connections staff, DFCS representatives, and community partners to provide excellent foster care services to 18 children and teens with medically fragile needs and significant behavioral challenges placed in her foster home since 2002.  She became interested in being a foster parent after serving as a relative placement for her nephew, and receiving legal guardianship of another nephew. Ms. Brooks enjoys working with youth and providing a safe and nurturing home environment where children can grow and reach their full potential. Ms. Brooks has two biological sons, who are now adults, and adopted two boys from foster care, who are now teenagers. read more
Congratulations, Sharon Brooks and Community Connections!


It's all relative: Building hope through kinship connections!

May is National Foster Care Month and is dedicated to celebrating the families who have served as foster parents to children and teens in need. This year's theme, "It’s All Relative: Building Hope through Kinship Connections” centers on creating an effective response system that will support efforts to achieve permanency for children in foster care! 

While many programs, celebrations, and activations were held across the state, The Georgia Division of Family and Children Services, state office, held their 3rd Annual Foster Caregiver of the Year Award luncheon to honor 23 outstanding foster parents from across the state on Monday, May 21, 2018. An announcement was also made to introduce a novel child-abuse-prevention program sponsored by the Division.

Families honored are listed below: 

Georgia Division of Family and Children Services

Ethan & Angie Hutchins - Chattooga County 

Andee & Julie Courson - White County 

Evan & Stevi Reeves - Polk County 

Kevin & Kari Jarrett - Carroll County

Jarratt & Brenda Pryor - Barrow County

Dave & Emily Elsworth - Bibb County

Johnny & Frances Cumming - Washington County 

Sabrina Leonard - Mucogee County 

Larry & Loretta Byrd - Candler County 

Sonny & Jeannie Brown - Colquitt County 

Wayne & Maranda Anderson - Atkinson County 

John & Olivia Egan - Bulloch County

Rose Diggs - Cobb County 

Alecia Head - Fulton County

Child Placement Agency 

Albert & Susan Rudnick - Multi-Agency Alliance for Children

Shatee & Stacey Cooks - Georgia Alliance of Therapeutic Services 

Sharon Brooks - Together Georgia 

Richard & Susan Brougham - Family Focused Treatment Association 

Hope Builder Awards

John "Bubba" Gibbs - Preserving Sibling Connections 

Marvin Blissett - Service to Older Youth 

Edward & Jessice Pennone - Placement Champions 

Robert & EJ Dailey - Partnership & Resource Builders 

Curtis & Lora McCants - Faithful Service 

Training Opportunities!  

Please don't forget to visit for other training opportunities! 

Education and Wellness Academies
Thursday, August 30, 2018 – 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Uniting Hope 4 Children
1949 Hwy 81
Suite 300
Loganville, GA 30052
As you register for the session above, remember the following:
  • You do not have to be a resident of or work within the region of the listed Education Academy. You may select the date and location most convenient for you.
  • Complete the entire registration page to ensure proper documentation of participation.
  • If you are unable to attend a session you have registered for, please sign-back in to delete/cancel your registration sign-up.
  • If at least 10% of the registration capacity is not filled, the training session will be canceled. (Example: For 35 slot registration capacity at least 4 people must sign up for the training in order for it to proceed).
 Please click here to register. 

Child Welfare Training Collaborative

The Professional Excellence Program offers free Child Welfare Training for Trauma 101 and Brain Development 101. The 2018 calendar (click here) is currently up to date on the website and includes classes in May/June. 


Georgia Center for Resources & Support (GACRS) 

The Georgia Center for Resources and Support (GACRS) is a statewide initiative designed and funded since 2002 by the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services. The parent agency for GACRS is Families First, a community-basedorganization that for the last 125 years has provided empowering solutions for Atlanta’s most vulnerable populations. GACRS purpose is to increase access to resources and supportive services for adoptive parents and foster caregivers post-placement in order to reduce the incidence of disruption and dissolutions in Georgia.

Please visit the Georgia Center for Resources and Support (GACRS) website here to learn about more training opportunities and resources. 

Resource Corner!

The power journey of one: The personal journey of a Social Worker!

In the special episode below, join co-hosts Lynette Ezell and Tera Melber as they continue the conversation with Rebecca Davidson (Resource Development Lead for Region 2)  in part two of this series. Learn more about the first steps of becoming a foster parent and who the state deems a good fit from Rebecca, who has worked in the foster care system for over 20 years. You won’t want to miss the last part of this series! 

Click here to listen and click here to subscribe to the Adopting and Fostering Home Podcast! 

The Georgia Center For Resources and Support is offering a NEW way for Adoptive Families to connect! 

GACRS invites you to join our forever family Facebook group, “The Adoptive Family Journey.” This group is sponsored by the Georgia Center for Resources and Support (GACRS).  It is a site for all adoptive families living in Georgia to connect, share, and learn from others about their journey as an adoptive family.  Within the group families are encouraged to discuss interests and concerns about parenting an adopted child or children. 
How to Join:
Go to your personal Facebook account and search for “The Adoptive Family Journey” or Click Here and submit a request to join our adoptive group.  You must be a resident of Georgia and an adoptive family.  Once you are approved by the administrator, you will have access to the site or page and can begin participating as a group member.  
Be Mindful Of:
We ask while sharing and commenting within the group, that you respect one another; do not use any identifying information; and do not post inappropriate language. All entries that comply with these requirements and is posted will remain confidential and stay within this group.
GACRS’ purpose for supporting The Adoptive Family Journey is to have adoptive families share and learn from one another.  Adoption is rewarding but has its challenges as well. Feel free to share your heart, your struggles, and your successes.  

The Bloom Closet!
Free Clothing and Supplies for Children 

Who is Eligible?
All Georgia foster children living in DFCS custody are eligible to "shop" in The Bloom Closet. This includes children living in DFCS approved relative placement homes and grandchildren placed into DFCS approved grandparent homes. This also includes individuals over the age of 18 who have signed themselves back into DFCS custody.

What Kind of Documentation is Needed?
We require a placement letter from the Department of Family & Children's Services or a referral letter from your caseworker showing that the child you are shopping for is in your care.  Please bring your letter with you to your appointment.

How Often Can I Shop?
Foster children can receive clothing on a quarterly basis  or after a growth spurt.

Do I Need an Appointment?
YES! Please call 770-461-7020 to schedule an appointment to shop. We want to make sure that your foster child gets everything he or she needs by providing you with individualized attention. Please make every attempt to honor your appointment time.  If  you are unable to make your appointment, we appreciate 24 hours notification. 

Please download the flyer here for more information. 

Building Healthy Relationships

Start talking to your teen early and often about sex, and be ready to listen and answer questions that might come up. 

Be clear and specific about your own family values, rules, attitudes, expectations around dating and sexual behavior. Make sure to clarify facts vs. beliefs. You don't need to be an expert on sexuality to have meaningful conversations with your child. 

Be there: monitor and supervise your children. Get to know your children's friends and their families. Be sure to monitor what your children are reading, watching and listening to. 

Ensure your child has regular visits with a medical provider. Sometimes teens feel more comfortable asking a doctor or other medical professional specific questions about sex and reproductive health. 

Believe in your power to affect change. Studies show that parents are the biggest influence in teens decisions about sex. Children and teens report that it would be easier to delay sexual activity and avoid teen pregnancy if they were able to have more open, honest conversations about these topics with their parents. 

Click here to learn more about Georgia's Sexual Risk Avoidance program. 

About this Newsletter

The Caregiver Recruitment and Retention Unit (CRRU) is a tentacle of the Foster Care Services section with the Division of Family & Children Services. The CRRU functions as a part of the state's overall objectives to strengthen families, protect children from further abuse and neglect and ensure permanency for every child in care. The purpose of this newsletter is to provide communication directly to caregivers about Recruitment, Training, and Retention initiatives from State Office. This newsletter will be published monthly. If you have topics that you would like for us to cover, please let us know by emailing our Media and Marketing Specialist Chelsey Williams

Please do not reply to this email. For all further questions or inquiries, please email

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2018 Georgia Conference on Children and Families October 17-19, 2018
2019 Together Georgia Day at the Capitol January 31, 2019

An email newsletter as a public service Editor   

Our MISSION: Together Georgia is a preeminent voice in Georgia's child and family welfare policy-making.

Our VISION: Together Georgia will ensure that member organizations are equipped to serve those that their missions are tied to through distributing emerging data as well as by collaborating with key government figures and pertinent decision makers