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August 17th, 2017 08:11 a.m.

Take a sneak peek at The Times' new website

August 17th, 2017 08:10 a.m.

Available space for foster children

A county-by-county breakdown of the number of beds available to children in Division of Family and Children Services care. Many counties do not have enough beds, and the darker the color, the worse off the county is. Note that beds provided by group homes are not accounted for in this map, and counties with no data available are not shaded.

How to help

Support foster parents and/or children

• Sponsor a child’s music lessons or athletic team membership
• Sponsor a child for their birthday or Christmas
• Become a volunteer babysitter or transporter, which requires some paperwork and screening
• Become a respite family, which requires all the same training and paperwork as becoming a foster parent but a much lesser time commitment. Respite families take occasional weekends to watch full-time foster parents’ children in order to give those parents a break.
• Become a Court-Appointed Special Advocate. CASAs represent children in court and help find them safe and permanent homes. Call their office at 770-531-1964.
• Get involved with Promise 686, which works with area churches to recruit, train and support DFCS foster families.
Call the local Division of Family and Children Services at 770-532-5233 for more information about other available opportunities.

Become a foster parent

Basic requirements: Be 25 or older, complete a medical exam, comply with a fingerprint check and pass a background check. Additional paperwork and training is required.
Contact: 1-877-210-KIDS
Training dates: No training is currently available in Hall County, but orientation classes are provided in some neighboring counties and full training will be available in January in Forsyth County. Call 770-532-5233 for more information.
Private agencies: A number of private agencies contract with DFCS to provide homes in Hall County; they train foster parents separately. Visit their websites for more information about their specific focuses and contact those agencies directly to become a foster parent through their organizations. Most also take monetary donations.
   • Bethany Christian Services: 770-455-7111
   • Creative Community Services: Therapeutic foster care agency focused on children with developmental disabilities and mental health needs. Contact them at 770-469-6226 and ask to talk with Reva Bowers in the recruitment and retention department or email They’re also looking for donations of rocking chairs and socks, help building a ramp at a foster home in Lawrenceville and restaurant gift certificates for families to have a night out.
   • FaithBridge Foster Care: Agency focused on providing Christian foster homes. Call 678-690-7100. Two-hour orientation classes are offered regularly.
   • Georgia Agape: Call 770-452-9995 and ask for Joan Zahler.

The stories


Too many kids, too few homes: Hall County has about 180 children in foster care in any given month. It has about 25 foster homes to care for them. Those who work in the system call it a crisis. On top of that, foster care case workers typically balance 25 cases every month, a number the state wants to get down to 15. The state is looking for answers. The Times delves into the problem and possible solutions.


Foster kids have team working on placement | The trauma of removal
Judges hold these children’s fate in their hands. Learn the court system and the players.


DFCS caseworkers face obstacles: Judges hold these children’s fate in their hands. Learn the court system and the players. Hall County Division of Family and Children Services workers are the first responders to reports of abuse and work directly to remedy the problems.


Longtime foster parents share their stories: Two longtime foster parents share their bittersweet stories.


Mom changes life to reunify with daughter | Family treatment court helps parents, children reconnect A mother tells of why her child was taken into custody and what it took to get her back. Also, learn about the organizations that help parents get on track.


Gainesville man overcame abusive foster home | Abused girl saved by foster system Read the story of a child abused but then adopted by a loving family and another story of a man who survived an abusive foster home.


Group homes sometimes help teens needing foster care: Many teenagers are referred to group homes, sometimes because their needs cannot be met in foster care and sometimes because there are no homes available to them.

OCT. 19

Where do we go from here? | From foster to forever: Some parents seek adoption | A learning process: Becoming a foster parent requires thought, answers | Our Views: Time to plug the foster gap State leaders are looking to address the need for resources, with privatization of foster care high on the list of possibilities.

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