Hall County children in the foster care system will soon have a safe space for family visitation with the opening of a family life center on Prior Street.
The nonprofit Supporting Adoption and Foster Families Together will be moving into a new space on Prior Street. Ashley Anderson, the organization’s executive director, said the group expects to receive the lease from the city by today and will renovate in November.
“We’ll be basically supporting the foster community, the kids who are in foster care. They’ll have a safe, home-like place to come and visit with their parents,” Anderson said.
The development comes at a time of crisis for foster care families in Hall County, with an average of 200 children in the system at any given time. Only 20-25 of those kids stay in the county.
Children who cannot find placement within the county are often moved to available beds in South Georgia cities like Savannah and Augusta.
Anderson’s staff will monitor the visits and work to help rebuild biological families. The move to Gainesville, the executive director said, is to better serve this community compared to previous efforts.
“We have a facility in Dawson (County) that was supposed to serve Hall (County), but it wasn’t serving the Hall County residents and it didn’t have any foster care services,” Anderson said. “We’re excited to come into Hall and make them accessible to the community.”
The center hopes to provide transportation, mentoring, foster support and help for domestic violence victims.
“We’ll do custody exchanges and supervised visitation at the site, so that a victim of domestic violence and the danger party will not have any interaction whatsoever,” Anderson said. “The child won’t witness any abuse, any verbal assault altercations like being exchanged in a parking lot.”
Anderson said she hopes to have the center helping families before Christmas with no set date for opening.
“We’ve had a lot of vendors step up and pretty much donating everything, but it’s just going to depend on their timeline,” she said.