Photo by Heather Middleton
By M.J. Subiria Arauz
Foster children are always in need of a welcoming home, and some people are more willing than others, to open their doors for these youngsters.
The Clayton County Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) will host its annual appreciation event tonight to recognize those who have been willing to give of themselves to help children in need.
"The Clayton County Foster and Adoptive Parent Appreciation Banquet" will be held from 6 p.m., to 9 p.m., at The Event Center, in Morrow, according to Trenisha Bocage, protect and placement specialist for foster care at DFCS.
The free formal event is exclusively for all of the adoptive and foster care parents in the county. Parents have already received their invitations, and more than 50 are expected to attend, she said. "It is just to show them that we appreciate the work that they are doing for our children," said Bocage.
She said the three-hour event will include a meal and presentation of awards for the parents. Children under the care of the parents will be supervised at DFCS, and provided with refreshments, she explained.
Bocage said DFCS is always in need of adults who are willing to care for children in the foster care system. Currently, there are approximately 170 youngsters in Clayton County, who are part of the system, she said. "All of them have a home, but the agency is currently recruiting foster parents," she added.
Children and young adults in the foster care system can range from infants, to 21-year-olds, said Bocage. Once a person reaches the age of 18, he or she can voluntarily choose to stay in the system because the Clayton County Juvenile Court is no longer involved.
"Foster care is for kids whose relatives can't meet their needs," said Bocage.
Adults interested in becoming foster parents, should call 1-877-210-5437, she said. There is a screening process, which includes a criminal-records check, a home evaluation and a drug screening, as well as, a training course.
People, who are single or married, can apply, she said. Sexual preference and ethnicity of the applicant does not matter. "They mainly just have to be self-sufficient," said Bocage.
Bocage said people who are approved to be foster parents can choose the age, sex and ethnicity of the child.
Foster parents help these children "by providing a placement for them, until they can find permanency," said Bocage.
Once a child completes his or her time in the foster home, DFACS may call the foster parent if they find another child within the parent's criteria, she said. The department will ask the parent if he or she is able to take the new child.
She explained that children move out from foster homes once a parent or relative can care for them. "We [DFACS] give them [foster parents] a ... payment for expenses related to the child's needs," she said.
If you want to help, or for more information, visit www.ccdfcs.org.