Georgia foster care programs facing shortage in parents willing to help

Published: Dec. 8, 2022 at 6:57 AM EST
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) -The holidays can be a very lonely time for many but especially for foster care children.

New data shows more than 10,000 children are in Georgia’s foster care system this holiday and right now statewide there is a massive shortage in families willing to welcome children into their homes, according to the Georgia Department of Human Services.

Experts from Wellroot Family Services told Atlanta News First there are a few misconceptions about fostering a child over the holidays.

Experts say many people believe it is going to be far too costly, too challenging for a single parent or they believe their home might not be big enough, but foster care parents told Atlanta News First it’s just about how big your heart is.

Brenda Campbell says it takes patience, ”It’s something I had to learn quite quickly.”

She said it’s a challenge but it’s worth it, ”This is the most rewarding thing you can give a family.”

Campbell is a single parent with a full-time job, who takes part-time classes, but she’s also foster care mom of three.

“So if I can do it anyone else can,” Campbell said.

However, Allison Ashe, CEO of Wellroot Family Services, said every week she is now having to say no to 60 kids who need foster care homes.

Ashe said there’s simply not enough homes or people like Brenda willing to step up, ”Since 2019 we’ve had a 52% drop in people inquiring about fostering with us,” CEO of Wellroot Family Services, Allison Ashe said.

The demand is also not slowing down this holiday.

“In August we had to turn 188 kids away that were referred to us.”

She said many children across the state will end up in group homes, but parents willing to step up will receive proper training, licensing and they can make $27 to $30 a day per kid through foster care programs like Wellroot.

Experts say it’s a gift one can give to change a child’s life for the better in Georgia.

”This is actually the best time and it’s great seeing the kids because most of them don’t have a Christmas like this if they have it at all. So being able to just sit there and watch their faces as they open their gifts is great,” Wellroot foster care mom, Brenda Campbell said.

Wellroot and the Georgia Department of Human Services said their biggest challenge right now is placing teenagers and sibling pairs.

Wellroot said they will help provide gifts to foster parents to give to foster children to help ensure everyone can enjoy the holidays.