FYPH to recruit, train foster parents

Tue, 08/07/2007 - 4:30pm
By: The Citizen

Fayette has need for temporary housing of foster children

A local non-profit agency wants to recruit, train and support a network of Fayette County families to serve as foster care homes for children who are temporarily removed from their normal homes.

Fayette Youth Protection Homes hopes to recruit and approve between five and 10 foster families in the first year of the Grace for Children program. Interested persons are asked to attend an informational meeting Thursday, Aug. 16 at 7 p.m. at Fayetteville First United Methodist Church.

FYPH operates a 10-bed shelter for foster children in south Fayette County but it only scratches the surface as 197 were taken into custody by the Department of Family and Children Services in Fayette County between July 1, 2004 and June 30, 2005. But in 2005, there were only 20 foster care homes available in Fayette County.

Last year, there were 381 substantiated incidents of child abuse or neglect in Fayette County.

To increase the number of foster care homes, FYPH is partnering with Georgia Baptist Children’s Homes to provide clinical services for the program, helping train the foster families and also church leadership and volunteers on how to be supportive resources to foster children and their families.

FYPH will make the training available for foster families who have signed up through DFCS and to DFCS staff, who also will be asked to review the curriculum.

The hope is that by training and encouraging foster families in Fayette County, more groups of siblings will be able to remain together. FYPH can’t help children ages six and younger because their state license doesn’t allow them to care for children that young.

Studies have shown that children who are separated from siblings feel a pain and loss in addition to being traumatized by dysfunctional family settings, FYPH officials said.

Once families are trained, Georgia Baptist Childrens Homes will provide a social worker to make a contact at a minimum of once a week, with a maximum of 10 cases at one time. Local churches and community organizations can provide other support to families such as funding special needs or activities and identifying approved visitation resources.

FYPH will provide individualized treatment planning for foster children, 24-hour access to professional staff in event of a crisis and 12 hours of training each year by staff and community experts. FYPH also offers respite care when foster parents need a break, access and location information on services and access to services and supplies donated by local businesses and individuals. There will also be opportunities to network with other foster families.

The mission of FYPH is to provide a safe and loving refuge for children who have been the victims of abuse, neglect or other traumatic family circumstance.

Foster parents must be at least 25 years old if single, and whether single or married must also be 10 years older than the child. They must also submit to a criminal records check including fingerprinting, a child abuse and neglect background check, home safety checks, a drug screening, a home evaluation, and 20 hours of training. They must also have a reference from a doctor to insure all household members are free from communicable diseases and in good health.

Foster children come from all socio-economic, ethnic and religious backgrounds. They range in age from infancy to 21, and the average length of stay is one year and seven months. Most will return to their birth families though some remain in foster care throughout their teen years. If a foster child becomes available for adoption, foster parents often adopt the child.

In Fayette County, foster parents are needed especially for teens, sibling groups and children under the age of 5.

Foster children’s medical expenses are covered by Medicaid, and the state will pay for other services such as psychological, psychiatric and speech therapy services depending on the child’s need. The state also provides children with health and safety items such as car seats and booster seats.

There is no home ownership requirement, but foster parents must have sufficient income to support their current family’s needs before adding a foster child.

Single parents can become a foster parent, and up to six total children can live in one foster home. The state provides daycare services to foster families based on income.

Parents do have the option to refuse a child’s placement if the child will not work with the dynamics of the family.

The process of applying to become a foster parent usually takes four to six months.

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