The DFCS case worker gathered her belongings and walked from the living room toward the front door of Jimmy and Beth Rogers’ home in Covington, GA. A two-year-old boy followed behind her, calling out, “I want to go home now too.”
Kneeling down, she told him that this was his new home. The boy’s face fell, resigned, as he simply whispered, “Okay.” Quinn (name changed to protect his privacy), now three years old, came into the foster care system at 13 months old and spent time at two foster homes before being placed with the Rogers through The United Methodist Children’s Home.
“We knew right then that we wanted him to stay with us until he could go home to his birth family,” said foster parent Jimmy Rogers. “He had seen so much change in his little life.”
Quinn is one of three children that the Rogers currently foster through The Children’s Home. They seek to do whatever is best for each child, even if it means heartbreak for them as foster parents.
“It can be tough,” said Beth Rogers. “If we get attached and our heart breaks, but it means a child goes back to a strengthened family — it is a good thing. There are times we still talk about our first placement and tears come to our eyes more than a year later. But the whole purpose is for the kids, not us.”
Children experience trauma when they are removed from their home — leaving parents and often siblings behind while also losing their community and friends.
“There is additional trauma every time that they receive a new case worker through DFCS or if they must switch to a new foster home,” said Denise Peacock, foster care recruiter for The Children’s Home. “Our goal is to find the best foster placement for each child, together with siblings whenever possible, so that they have consistency and love in their life, people working hard to do what is best for them.”
During 2014, The Children’s Home served 148 foster children and worked with 57 foster families and hopes to boost both numbers this year in an effort to help reduce Georgia’s child welfare crisis. More than 10,000 children are in the state’s child welfare system, according to Georgia’s Division of Child and Family Services, and the shortage of foster homes results in children being separated from siblings, living far from home, and staying in inappropriate placements such as hotels.
“We spend time in churches and other organizations every week actively trying to recruit foster parents,” said Peacock. “I ask everyone I meet: ‘Have you ever considered fostering a child?’ and while many people have, they often are intimidated by the unknowns. I explain that foster parents have a profound chance to positively affect the rest of a child’s life.”
The Children’s Home provides strong support to every foster family they work with, guiding them through such as hospitalizations, court visits, or behavioral issues.
“When our foster baby was hospitalized for 20 days, our Children’s Home caseworker spent a night with her when neither of us could, and others from the Home sat with the baby during days when I had to work and Beth had appointments that could not be missed. She was never by herself,” said Jimmy Rogers.
At the same time, The Children’s Home works toward establishing permanency for every foster child placed — 88 percent of children who left the Home’s care in 2014 transitioned toward permanency.The ultimate hope is to reunite children with a rehabilitated family or approved relative. When that isn’t possible, the Home helps foster families with the adoption process. Quinn has been placed with the Rogers for a year now and feels settled and loved — he feels “home.”
Reunification with his birth family is no longer possible, and the Rogers are in the adoption process to make him a permanent member of theirs.
“We do not foster with the intent to adopt, but obviously we are open to it,” said Beth Rogers. “As foster parents, our goal is to provide comfort and love to these children, to do what is best for them, not us. And there are so many children in need.”
Her husband, Jimmy, believes this need could be met by more churches and families of faith taking a stand: “No matter your denomination or faith, the scriptures are pretty clear about caring for children. If a family in each church in Georgia fostered, every child in the system could have a loving home as long as it was needed.”
Have you ever considered fostering a child? The need has never been greater.
Contact us today to learn more: (404) 327-5864.