Welfare Watch December 19, 2016

Home for the Holidays and more...

Together Georgia members recently shared with each other what their agencies are doing to help children in foster care celebrate the holidays. This is a time of year when volunteers and donors increase their involvement to make the holidays special for children in care. The gestures of generosity are welcomed and calendars quickly fill up with events and festivities.

During the Together Georgia discussions, providers were reminded that this can also be a difficult time of year for children who have experienced trauma and do not hold good memories of the holidays.  A suggestion was made to ask children to share what a good holiday, for them, would look like and incorporate some of their ideas into the holiday celebrations. When asking, one might be surprised by the answer.

A foster parent retells a time when she and her husband cared for children in foster care. “We wanted our children to experience the same adventures that other children enjoy growing up.” She continued, “One summer we planned a fast paced vacation to Florida with seven young boys staying as busy as possible taking these kids to the beach, an arcade park/go-cart track, Disney World, Sea World, and deep sea fishing. Along the way, we stayed at my parent’s home in Florida and enjoyed a birthday dinner with my grandfather.” She noted that they “queried the kids on the way home asking each child to share his favorite part of the vacation. As we made the rounds I heard a variety of answers; one I will never forget--when it was Eric’s turn, he didn’t hesitate, ‘My favorite part was Granddad’s birthday dinner’!”  She spoke softly when she shared, “I realized then how special family connections are. These connections make a difference in the life of a child.”

The holiday season is a time when individuals and communities turn out to support children in care. It is important to remember, there are many ways to help year-round. The need is great for loving homes when children are separated from their birth families. Recent reports indicate that in Georgia there are currently more than 13,000 children in out-of-home placements (foster care and group homes). The number is expected to increase to more than 16,000.

Thankfully, caring individuals step forward to fill the gap when families cannot be together, and that can make all the difference.

DHS Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) has a new webpage, www.fostergeorgia.com,  for those seeking information about becoming a foster parent. There are foster and adoptive opportunities both through DFCS and through private agencies—a list of agencies is available online at
https://www.gascore.com/documents/RBWO_Provider_Profile_Guide.pdf

There are many ways to become involved, some of which are becoming a foster or adoptive parent.  We recognize that not everyone is in a position to foster or adopt. Alternatively, there are other ways to become involved--a few Ideas include:

  • birthday sponsors to provide a birthday cake and gift on child’s special day.
  • donate new school supplies or backpack
  • tutoring or mentoring

Volunteers with expertise also help with therapeutic horseback riding, music lessons, dance, and other activities. There are many ways to become involved. We trust you will find the blessing goes both ways.

Happy Holidays!


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