Georgia Center For Resources & Support

Current News

DHS Daily Digest

The DHS Daily Digest provides summaries of the Department’s latest news coverage. The DHS Daily Digest is released on paper and via email by 10:30 a.m. and contains hypertext links to the listed documents.

________________________________________________________________

NEWS COVERAGE

Local News

Opinion: Adoption month’s worth celebrating - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Aging out of foster care: No one should be alone - Walker County Messenger

Proactive:
Passive:
Reactive:

Positive: 1

Negative: 0
Neutral: 0

National News

The graying of America is stretching local tax dollars - The Washington Post

Kentucky still working out how to pay grandparents, others providing free foster care - Louisville Courier Journal

Opioid epidemic heightens need to bolster kinship care support in Ohio: J.D. Vance (Opinion) – Cleveland News

Proactive:
Passive:
Reactive:

Positive: 0

Negative: 0
Neutral: 0

Local News

Opinion: Adoption month’s worth celebrating - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

By Monica Richardson

In 2014, I adopted a two-year-old girl from the Texas foster care system. After starting the adoption process, I got some of the strangest questions and reactions to my plans. A colleague once asked me what breed I was getting? Assuming I was talking about a pet. Some friends and family members would ask me directly or indirectly why I would do such a thing? Some assumed I was living the best life as a single, career-minded, child-free woman in my early ’40s in Atlanta. I was by all accounts at a time in my life when my mind should have perhaps been on traveling, dating, shopping, dining out, book clubs and continuing to climb the corporate ladder, work training and all that other fun stuff. Instead I was about to enter the terrible twos, pull-ups, daycare confusion and parent pressure and, even tougher, single-parent pressure.

Everyone had their opinions about my plans. There were people who seemed happier than me and others who raised their brows. There’s a story behind every adoption. Adoptive parents are all led and motivated by so many different things. November is National Adoption Month and as an adoptive parent I could not let the month go by without sharing a little of my story. I’ve learned that sometimes all people need is to be encouraged by someone else’s story to make a difference in a life. It’s also a very interesting time coincidentally in the discussion of adoption. The House Republicans’ tax reform plan proposes getting rid of the adoption tax credit which has been around for 20 years. If this new tax bill passes this year as-is, families that finalize adoptions starting in 2018 wouldn’t have access to the credit. The proposal has fueled lots of discussion in the adoptive community.

As any adoptive parent can tell you, adoption can be costly. An Adoptive Families Magazine survey of 1,100 families who adopted children from 2012 to 2013 found that, on average, families spent $34,093 on independent adoptions and $39,966 if they went through an agency. These costs have continued to increase as adoptions have come under increasing regulation. The adoption tax credit helps low- and moderate-income families to be able to afford the high costs of adoptions. The tax credit change is said to stand on claims that the adoption tax credit has not increased the number of adoptions.

Well, of course it hasn’t. That’s not the intent. The credit makes an already tough time and experience easier on the back-end for people who have gone through the process. Please get this in your head. No one goes into the adoption process thinking, oh yes this will be great because we can get a tax credit. If you have that in your mind, let me be the first to tell you that you’re wrong.

Adoption was something that entered my heart in 2009 after a trip to Nairobi. I wanted to bring back every child I’d met who was living in the slums of Kenya. I couldn’t wrap my mind around how children could live in such an impoverished environment and I knew I could offer a better life. I didn’t start the process right away and learned early on that I simply couldn’t afford international adoption. It wasn’t until I was knocking on the door of age 40 that I got serious about it. I’d heard the process could be long (and it was), so I thought I’d better start before I got too far up in age.  Funny thing is that even after I started the process I still wasn’t so sure what I was doing. All I knew was that I had been blessed and that I should share those blessings with someone else.

So, I did it. My little girl came to me after being placed in foster care at three months old. She had been removed from her home for abuse and neglect. Her parents’ rights had already been terminated by the time I met her. She needed a home, a forever family and I had the heart. My adoption process was an emotional rollercoaster. Adoption is not for the weak. It’s tough before, during and after the process. As it should be because it is a process dealing with some of the nation’s and world’s most vulnerable children. Even though my adoption was finalized two years ago I still make use of post-adoption services regularly. My adoption placement came through Families First, which manages the Georgia Center for Resources and Support (GACRS).

GACRS was designed in 2001 by the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services to assist in strengthening Georgia’s adoptive and foster families. In 1890, Families First started as an orphanage on the Westside of Atlanta and in 1937 became the first licensed adoption agency in the state of Georgia. Families First just last month named a new CEO. Terry Tucker, an adoptive parent himself, previously led the City of Refuge. I talked to Tucker about new initiatives coming from Families First and what he believed to be the greatest issue facing Georgia as it relates to adoption.

Tucker pointed to two issues. First, there are challenges facing children in foster care outside of metro Atlanta in outlying Georgia counties. They can’t provide the necessary services needed for children in those areas so children end up having to travel many miles to get needed supportive services. The second-biggest issue, he said, is finding adoptive homes, or forever families, for older children, typically ages 11 and up. These children often end up “aging out” of the system still needing services. Tucker said close to 520 children age out of the foster care system in Georgia every year. “Aging out” is a term that refers to the time a youth leaves the formal system designed to provide services below a certain age. It can be a scary time for a young adult who’s never had a stable home environment. “It’s hard to explain what happens to a child who stays in the system,” said Tucker. “It damages their soul when they don’t have a place to call a forever home.”

I once told a friend who was contemplating adoption that all it takes is love. If you have that, you can get through adoption and everything that comes with it. I think Tucker put it best: “There is no greater joy than seeing a life changed by opening up your home to a kid who needs a stable place to live. If someone has space and love and discipline, I would compel them to adopt. I know from personal experience that there is no greater joy.” If you’re thinking about adoption, the first step is simply getting information. And, there’s no better time to start than during National Adoption Month. The Georgia Division of Family and Children Services, fostergeorgia.com, has a live chat feature that allows you to speak directly with an agency representative about becoming a foster, adoptive and/or relative caregiver. Agency representatives are available to chat online 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Aging out of foster care: No one should be alone - Walker County Messenger

When a child in foster care turns 18, his or her life can take a dramatic new course, and all too often is not for the better. Rossville foster parents Dave and Dana Williams are doing something about it. "You have kids who have come from troubled backgrounds," says Dave. "Their lives have been full of instability and insecurity. They have no support system, no history with one family."

Dave Williams says statistics show that the first year after aging out of foster care, 70-85 percent of kids end up homeless. "Studies show that 60 percent of girls who age out of foster care become pregnant by the time they turn 21," says Williams, though he believes the number is actually higher than that. "Too often girls sleep with someone just so theyll have a place to stay."

Enter Our Kindred Community, the nonprofit the Williamses have started to address the problem. "We exist to connect young adults who have aged out of foster care or for any other reason lack a healthy support system with families willing to embrace lifelong relationships" reads the introduction to their vision statement.

And the couple is starting close to home. The Williamses have already fostered 120 children over the past six years and have adopted several. Their home is a buzz of children, many who have grown up and gone on to other things but still come back to visit. Now the couple has a second home. "Is right down the street from us," says Dave. "Is the home I grew up in. My mom was having trouble selling it, so we decided to buy it and start making our dream of helping young adults come true."

The home will be a place where girls in need of support can live, including girls with babies. "The girls will stay in our own home for a trial period of six months so we can make sure theyre serious about their future," says Dave. "From there, theyll move to the home down the street but remain a part of our family and be connected with other families. Theyll pay some rent to learn financial responsibility, but that will include utilities and any meals theyd like to have with us at the main house. Our doors are always open."

But this isnt just a place for girls to live. A resident advisor will also live at the house. Girls will be required to sit down with advisors and create a plan for their immediate future, including education and financial goals and ways to reach them, an assessment of medical and dental needs, and deadlines for attaining their goals. "Our plan is to pair each girl with a loving family willing to open its heart and life," says Dave. "It will be a mix of expectations and a lot of support." Included in the Our Kindred Community plan are weekly classes in areas the Williamses have outlined in their vision statement: Spiritual Growth, Finances, Job Skills, Home Living, Self-awareness, and Health.

The help offered through Our Kindred Community is not limited to girls who live in the groups home. "Our goal is to help as many young people as possible," says Dave. "We would like to see this plan replicated." Why are they doing it? "God told us to," the Williamses say in their vision statement. "We believe one of the most horrible tragedies anyone could face is to live life alone, unloved, uncelebrated, and unaware of a God who loves them and desires a relationship with them."

The Williamses are still working on getting their first Kindred Community house furnished. "We have all the soft furniture we need," says Dave, "sofas, mattresses, things like that, but theres still a lot we could use." If youd like to help, heres a list of what the Williamses still need for the house: pots, pans, plastic food containers, small appliances, bedding/linens for twin-size beds, pillows, a couple of desks, some sturdy dressers, a TV and a DVD player, trash cans, towels and wash cloths, laundry and cleaning supplies, and toiletries. Monetary donations are also welcome and appreciated. Dave and Dana Williams and Our Kindred Community can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and through Facebook at facebook.com/ourkindredcommunity.

National News

The graying of America is stretching local tax dollars - The Washington Post

By Antonio Olivo

More and more these days, when paramedics in Fairfax, Virginia, respond to emergency calls, they find an older person who has fallen, broken a bone or suffered a heart attack. Meanwhile in nearby Montgomery County, Maryland, authorities are investigating an increasing number of elder-abuse cases and crimes targeting senior citizens. In Chicago, New York City and elsewhere, more money is being allotted to government buses that take seniors to exercise classes and social workers who help families at a loss for how to care for aging loved ones. Rising demand for services for the elderly is taking a toll on local governments, as communities nationwide seek to accommodate a growing senior-citizen population while still tending to schools, roads, parks and other needs.

http://www.mystatesman.com/lifestyles/health/the-graying-america-stretching-local-tax-dollars/WHIt4xMe558o3axzZ4IpwM/

Kentucky still working out how to pay grandparents, others providing free foster care - Louisville Courier Journal

By Deborah Yetter

Kentucky's top social services official said Monday that the state is still working out how to pay some relatives, many of them grandparents, who have been providing free foster care to children removed from homes because of abuse or neglect. But Adria Johnson, commissioner of the state Department for Community Based Services, said officials can't say when payments of around $25 a day might start for those who qualify under the court ruling. "We do not have firm timelines," Johnson said, speaking to the House-Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee. "We hope to have them soon." That prompted criticism from Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, who said his agency has been inundated with calls from desperate relatives who say they are living in poverty or near-poverty as they attempt to care for children.

https://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/2017/11/20/foster-care-payments-kentucky-relatives-raising-children/869690001/

Opioid epidemic heightens need to bolster kinship care support in Ohio: J.D. Vance (Opinion) – Cleveland News

By Guest Columnist

Like many thousands of people across our state, opioid addiction forever changed the trajectory of my family. As a child, I learned quickly that a parent's addiction affects nearly every piece of your life -- from where you live to the relationships that you form. But I was one of the lucky ones: For me, many of my relatives stepped up to fill gaps. My aunt often invited me into her home, my sister ensured we had structure in our lives, and my grandparents -- whom I called Mamaw and Papaw -- took it upon themselves to raise me. After my grandfather died, I lived much of my life in Mamaw's house -- benefiting from her love, structure, and discipline.

http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2017/11/opioid_epidemic_heightens_need.html