DFCS officials offer solutions to rebuild GA's child welfare system

DFCS officials offer solutions to rebuild GA's child welfare system

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - In Muscogee County, 450 children are in foster care and in 2014, only 11 transitioned from state custody into an adoptive homes.

State officials say that number is way too high and they need more volunteers to help take on some of the responsibilities of helping children that are in the custody of the state of Georgia.

The Georgia Division of Family and Children Services talked about these concerns in a town hall meeting at North Highland Assembly of God in Columbus Thursday night.

The town hall meeting is a tour called a Blueprint for Change. It's part of a plan to build partnerships to provide safe places for children in foster care and to increase the number of children that are adopted in the state.

Social services officials and Georgia Governor, Nathan Deal's Child Welfare Reform Council had a important talk about how to reform the child welfare system in Georgia in three ways.

"A practice model change being how we engage with families, secondly its how we develop a workforce that is capable of doing the work that we need done and finally, its constituents' engagement. Getting out in the community," said Bobby Cagle, Georgia DFCS Director.

Bobby Cagle says Georgia at one time had one of the best adoption rates in the country. After the recession between 2006 and 2010, budget cuts in his division left less staff workers and more children that needed help.

"We have fallen what used to be really good work, especially in adoptions. We do about half we did 10 years ago," said Cagle.

Cagle says there are currently 200 children available for adoption in Georgia.

"It's incumbent upon us to do a better job in recruiting families that are willing to adopt but also to foster children across the state,"

According to the Department of Family and Children Services, the number one reason most children enter the system is because of neglect followed by drug abuse.

"Children can overcome many adverse things if we build the right supports around them. They have to be safe, secure and nurtured," said Peggy Walker, Douglas County Juvenile Court Judge.

Officials say anyone can provide support to help children in DFCS custody.

"Whether they can do tutoring, help with sports, transportation, even if they can be respite homes where children can come on the weekends." said Walker.

This is the 5th town hall meeting for Blueprint for Change. They plan to schedule 10 more around the state of Georgia.

To see more statistics about adoption rates in Georgia and to find the areas where you can help, click here and here.

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