Oprah Leach.

Oprah Leach.

ATLANTA — A Tift County social worker recently earned state recognition for her efforts to reunite foster children with their parents.

Oprah Leach, a case manager with the Tift County Department of Family and Children Services, received a certificate and recognition along with a select number of colleagues from the state’s 14 regions at a luncheon in their honor.

“Oprah Leach is truly a hero in her community for her professionalism, compassion and effectiveness in enabling families to solve their personal crises and return to caring for their children,” said Samantha Walker, state reunification manager. “She proves our approach works when we partner with parents on a reunification plan and work together to equip parents for the toughest job there is – being a mother or father.”

This is the first year the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services has used it to recognize employees, foster parents and service providers for their success in getting families back together. Each month, an average of 313 families are reunited in Georgia.

“Our goal is to strengthen families so they can provide safe, stable, loving homes for their children,” said division director Tom Rawlings. “We help them through whatever struggles may be interrupting stability, and if things were serious enough to require the child to be temporarily removed from the home for safety reasons, then we rush to get the family back on their feet and reunite them as quickly as possible.”

The division works each year with the families of tens of thousands of children across Georgia. Fewer than 5 percent of the reports of alleged maltreatment result in the need to remove the child from home over risk of imminent danger. Of those placed in foster care, the majority are reunited with their families.

Reunifying families is what gives Leach the greatest joy in her job. She takes ownership of all of her cases and works hard to make a positive impact on the lives of those she serves.  Leach began serving as a foster care case manager in December 2016. Prior to that she worked for more than two years as an Office of Independence caseworker, helping families receive assistance in purchasing food and being able to go to medical appointments.

When a juvenile court judge decides a child must be removed from home and placed into foster care, the Division finds foster parents to provide a temporary home. Foster parents are always in short supply.

Anyone interested in learning about becoming a foster parent can visit FosterGeorgia.com or call 800-210-KIDS.

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