For the thousands of children throughout Georgia in need of good homes, the nonprofit therapeutic foster care agency Georgia Safe is available.
Georgia Safe in Martinez places children from birth all the way to 18 years of age.
"We recruit and train foster families," said Trina Hawes, a resource developer.
"We receive three to four referrals from the state DFCS (Division of Family and Children Services) every day," she said.
Georgia Safe has about 38 licensed foster homes. Fifty-two children are being cared for within these homes. Some of the foster parents care for a child or children temporarily, while others choose to adopt.
Georgia Safe started about five years ago to help children live up to their potential, Hawes said.
The agency's parent company is the Youth Development Corporation of America, and originated in 1982. The Ohio-based group strives to "improve the quality of life through instructing and modeling skills required to be successful in the community," according to its Web site, www.ydca.org.
Georgia Safe has placed 179 children statewide and nearly 50 in the Augusta area, according to Faith Hurt, the group's division director.
Therapeutic foster parents attend monthly training sessions to keep their skills up and have a family consultant who is like a social worker. The consultant is available to the family around the clock.
There are two main steps to becoming a foster parent, Hawes said. Parents must first pass a background check and then complete a required class.
"There must be a love for children," Hawes said. "Parents must have an income that can support them, too."
Georgia Safe reimburses from $17 to $50 per day per child and Medicaid covers each child.
Many of the children come through the agency carrying all of their possessions in trash bags. As a result, Georgia Safe now seeks public donations of unwanted suitcases, duffel bags and storage containers to give to needy foster children.
Georgia Safe's staff consists of 11 workers, with more to be hired to serve in a planned mental health program.
For more information about Georgia Safe or becoming a foster parent, call Hawes at (706) 210-3435.
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