December 1, 2015
The state of Georgia recently experienced a 15 percent increase in the number of children in foster care due to a rise in demand and more accurate measuring of services provided. This influx far outpaces the number of foster homes that could care for the children, resulting in thousands of youth not being placed with families and, in some cases, residing in hotels.
Tennessee-based Centerstone, one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit behavioral healthcare providers, announced that it is expanding Therapeutic Foster Care Services to North Georgia in order to meet the state’s quickly growing demand for foster care home options.
Centerstone is seeking individuals and families to become foster parents in 11 North Georgia counties: Catoosa, Chattooga, Cherokee, Dade, Fannin, Gilmer, Gordon, Murray, Pickens, Walker and Whitfield. Because of the significant need, anyone residing outside of those regions who is interested in becoming a Therapeutic Foster Care home is still encouraged to contact Centerstone.
“Today, there are more than 11,000 children in the state of Georgia in need of foster care service—more than 1,150 of these children are located in North Georgia,” said Peg Densmore, Centerstone’s Therapeutic Foster Care Coordinator for North Georgia. “Centerstone has been a long-trusted partner in connecting foster parents with children in need in our communities. We look forward to bringing our work to North Georgia to help provide each of these children with the loving and supportive home they deserve.”
Centerstone provides Therapeutic Foster Care Services in Tennessee and Indiana, specializing in preparing families to foster children with more intricate care needs. These can be medical or behavioral needs such as those associated with ADHD, self-harm, or physical or emotional abuse.
Through a multifaceted approach with foster families, the organization not only looks to address a child’s behavior symptoms but looks to all barriers to long-term recovery and wellbeing. This is addressed in part through an understanding of the strong link between physical health and mental health. Therapeutic Foster Care team members are committed to a whole-person health care approach with every child and family being served. Because of Centerstone’s success with similar programs in Tennessee and Indiana, it was approached by the State of Georgia to provide these high-level services in the state.
“Because of the current shortage of foster homes, a majority of children cannot be placed in homes within their home county or area. This makes visitation with family difficult and often results in changing schools, which disrupts learning and reduces important social support networks for the children,” said Densmore. “Having foster care homes close to home in North Georgia is vital to these children.”
Several families in the region have already stepped forward and are currently being trained by Centerstone to become foster parents. The organization is currently accepting applications for additional foster care parents in the North Georgia region and hopes to begin its first home placement in the coming months.