MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – May is Foster Care Awareness month — bringing light to the growing number of Foster care children without homes. The Methodist Home in Macon is doing its part to address the high demand for Foster parents.
In Middle Georgia alone, there are more than 600 foster children in the system waiting to be placed with families.
That’s why the Methodist Home’s Hope Foster Care program has been working to recruit and train more foster parents here in Middle Georgia–foster parents like Elle Garrison.
Elle Garrison is a foster mother to four children—a one year-old, two year-old, three year-old and 12 year-old.
“I’m kind of out of the box of what people would picture for a foster family,” she said.
She’s a single parent with a full house–and she was trained through the HOPE Foster Care program.
“Our entire goal is to recruit train and then support foster Families here in Middle Georgia,” said resource developer Loren Rae Grace.
Bibb County DCFS’s Paul Williamson says the demand for local foster parents like Elle Garrison is high, but the number of families willing to become foster parents–not so much.
“We just don’t have the families so that we’re able to place the children inside the middle Georgia area,” he said.
That’s why Grace says she and others want to keep these kids close to home–by recruiting more local residents to become foster parents.
“If they’re placed far away from their community then that means their ongoing communication with their biological family is much more of a challenge, If we can keep children here in middle Georgia we can make sure they remain connected to their community connected to their biological family,” said Grace.
It’s a 10 week program to guide parents through the process.
“It’s called IMPACT training so they go through the training, we equip them to meet the needs of children who have come through trauma, we equip them to make sure their homes are ready and we help them through the home steady process,” Grace added.
Garrison says even though fostering isn’t always easy she wants others to know you don’t have to be perfect to be a parent.
“You know to love kids and to embrace a different family that probably comes from a different place than they come from.” She continued, “If you are willing to provide for one child a safe place to go you’d be a great fit for foster care.”
There are more than 13,000 foster kids across the state and 650 of those are here in Middle Georgia.
If you’re interested in becoming a foster parent through HOPE foster care it’s not too late to sign up before their next IMPACT session starts.
The session will begin May 25th. You can find more information about the program here .