Columbus leaders seek solutions for high foster care stats

Columbus leaders seek solutions for high foster care stats

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - On Friday, Muscogee County Judges met with DFACS, clergy, and community leaders to brainstorm solutions for the considerably high amount of Muscogee County children in foster care. 

According to DFACS, there are 538 Muscogee County children today living in foster care, which is higher than other counties of similar size.

"What types of support might be put into place that would prevent kids from coming into foster care period," says Marva Reed Regional Director of DFACS.

Reed says the majority of the children in foster care in Columbus are under the age of three, and of the more than 500 kids, 85 are between ages 13-15 and 52 are between ages 16-18. 

She says the system disproportionately impacts African-Americans with more than 60 percent being black, 30 percent white, four percent Hispanic, another four percent multi-racial and less then one percent are Asian. 

"What are the factors? What is it that contributes to this huge difference?" asked Reed.

Substance abuse, single parent homes, and poverty are all common denominators among foster children according to Reed. 

Friday's meeting also served for a chance to examine the DFACS intake process where workers are required to go through an intense 46 weeks of training.

"Since most of our workers come from middle class backgrounds, we really don't understand these families in poverty and these family with generational dysfunction," says Rosalind Alston, a court-appointed special advocate.

When examining a long term plan, Alston says "we must consider less than three percent of foster children go to college."

So in addition to lowering the number of foster care children in Muscogoee County, she says long term resources also need to be developed. 

"We can not fail at this," says Licensed Professional Counselor Edward Dubose.

Dubose was recently contacted by a former foster child he counseled.

"I don't know if you really remember me, but I remember you. You really helped me, you really changed my life. I was just calling to give you an update I am about to graduate from college," the foster child told Dubose. 

The next meeting will be held Friday Feb. 19 at 1:30 p.m. inside of the Columbus Government Center. Community leaders say they will discuss proposed solutions, including a Columbus faith-based initiative.

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a foster parent, call 1-877-210-KIDS.

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