The state was struggling to place children in homes and resorting to hotel rooms instead – an issue DFCS has been tackling for years.
ATLANTA — Most, if not all, foster children in Georgia are spending nights with a foster family – a small win advocates are celebrating.
The state was struggling to place children in homes and resorting to hotel rooms instead, a practice the Division of Family and Children Services had been trying to tackle for years. The option is still there, according to officials, but there have been enough families recruited to at least support children in the system right now.
Many of the youth, advocates explained, are in need of specialized services like therapeutic foster care and crisis intervention centers – both of which are limited around the state, especially to children with no guardian present. Advocates had been fighting to get these children inside homes so they could have a sense of normalcy and security and stop resorting to “hoteling.“
Georgia had been making a concerted effort to cut back on the number of foster children staying in hotel rooms with the goal of reaching zero. The state has recently hit that mark on Sept. 8, advocates said during a Senate study committee meeting Tuesday. The number has hovered at or near zero since then.
In February, the state reported that 50 to 70 children were staying in DFCS offices or hotels every night. Most of the children were described as having “complex needs” and had a 24/7 caseworker stay with them.
The head of DFCS Candice Broce described getting children into homes as an emotional milestone but recognizes it’s a standard the office will have to work to maintain.
“We didn’t do a lot of celebration because we know, again, that this is a moving target. On any given day we have kids that enter custody or disrupt their current placement and we have to consider a hotel,” Broce said. “But we were absolutely thrilled to finally reach that.”
11Alive’s Liza Lucas has been following this story. To read more of her coverage, click here.