UM Children's Home seeks foster families to meet increasing need
By GLENN HANNIGAN
The phone has been ringing more often than usual at the United Methodist Children’s Home in Decatur. It is a worrisome development. Agencies from across metro Atlanta often call the UMCH seeking help for children in need of foster care.
“It is an issue of increasing need,” said Denise Peacock, who is in charge of foster care recruiting and adoptions for UMCH. “It is not just with us but with private agencies as well. We need more foster families. We are currently turning away 10-18 children a week because we do not have homes to put them in.”
Peacock said that as of August 15, the UMCH had already referred as many children to foster care in 2012 as it had for all of 2011. The day she was being interviewed, Peacock said she had already received four calls seeking foster homes for children that she was unable to help.
“One of the agencies that called needed to place three sisters,” she said. “Another had nine siblings in need of foster care. We do our best to keep siblings together, but we are just out of options in many cases.”
The UM Children's Home of the North Georgia Conference places children and youth, between infancy and 18 years of age, with foster families. The UMCH provides training, staff supervision and a supportive community for those interested in being foster parents. Foster families are given a per diem for each child in their care as well as assistance with the costs of clothing, medical needs, and daycare.
"Many people are not aware that they can foster through a United Methodist agency like UMCH," said Peacock, a long-time member of Oak Grove UMC. “We just need more people willing to help.”
Peacock says it takes about two months for people to complete the process to become foster parents. It is crucial to get more people in the pipeline, she said.
“We are eager to explain how this works for people who might be interested,” Peacock said. “I am happy to visit a church and set up a table after Sunday services or come speak to a Wednesday night service, a men’s group or a women’s group. We are happy to attend any mission fair.”
Peacock said that there are currently 8,000 children in foster homes in the state of Georgia. Two years ago there were 6,000.
“It breaks my heart to turn away children,” she said. “We are a good agency with good homes. We just need more families willing to help.”
If you are interested in learning more about becoming a foster parent or family, contact Denise Peacock at 404-327-5864 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you live in the Gainesville area, contact Christa Gaudinier at email@example.com for foster parenting information.