This is National Foster Care Month.

Foster Care Month exists to raise awareness about foster care needs and show appreciation to all foster families.

There are about 8,000 children in foster care in Georgia, according to the state’s Division of Family and Children Services.

The children come from many backgrounds and situations.

They are children of all ages and races.

A great many of them have special needs, including teenagers, siblings and children with physical, emotional and/or behavioral disabilities.

The Division of Family and Children Services operates as part of the Georgia Department of Human Services and is tasked with assuring children are safe from abuse and neglect.

Dedicated caregivers are a critical part of fulfilling that mission.

DFCS says once a determination is made it is not safe for a child to remain in the home of a parent or guardian, the child may be placed in foster care.

The foster-care program is designed to be a temporary home away from home while qualified professionals work with the family to address child-safety concerns.

DFCS said its goal is to return children safely to their families, but adds that the child’s safety comes before any other consideration.

DFCS has said the agency is always looking for what it calls “loving, safe and stable homes for the children who are brought into care.” The approval process can take up to 10 months and may require certifications, evaluations and a good bit of documentation.

Foster parents do not receive a per diem for caring for the children in their homes, according to DFCS. Rather, they can be reimbursed for some of the expenses they incur while caring for children.

The state may provide an initial clothing allowance when children enter foster care as well as an annual clothing allowance.

Foster children may benefit from certain therapeutic services as well as health and safety items that may include things such as car seats, booster seats and safety helmets.

Foster children between the ages 14-25 are provided with services through the Independent Living Program that provides funding and support to help youth successfully transition from foster care, according to DFCS.

In a perfect world, foster care would not be needed.

In a perfect world, children would never be abused or neglected.

It is not a perfect world.

In our world, children are orphaned, sadly others are abandoned, abused and neglected, making foster care so important and foster families so needed and appreciated.

Those interested in serving as a foster parent can call (877) 210-KIDS.

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