Keeping Our Children In Our County
12/1/2017 ~ by Pickens County Family Connection Board of Trustees
On Wednesday, November 8, 2017, attendees from local and state agencies joined together for the Pickens Family Connection Collaborative focused on Pickens County Department of Children and Family Services and Kinship care.
In 2015, Governor Nathan Deal, through the Department of Children and Family Services (“DFACS”), launched the Kinship Navigator Program which is designed to be a “One-Stop Shop” for information and referral services for grandparents and other relatives raising other relative’s children. Pickens County DFACS, a fully staffed agency, currently has 81 children in foster care that reside in 18 foster homes throughout the county.
Jeffrey Cash, the Regional Kinship Navigator, was assigned to Pickens this year. He grew up in kinship care and explained the importance of family members embracing children related to them versus those children entering the foster care system. The reality is that children placed with non-relatives are three times more likely to be moved to different homes than children in kinship care. Currently, over 100 children in Pickens County are in kinship care. “We will work with families as long as they need us.” The goal is to have 50% of children staying with relatives. To reach this goal, Mr. Cash has teamed up with faith based organizations. His philosophy is, “what better way to serve our community than alongside faith based partners”.
Pleasant Hill Christian Church (“PHCC”) joined the crusade to assist our families by providing outreach events. They have worked with DFACS for the past few years hosting “Foster Parents Night Out” that allows foster parents a reprieve for an evening while the children enjoy an evening full of activities, fun and games. They also host an Annual Family Christmas Celebration for foster parents/caregivers and kids and also offer monthly Kinship Caregiver Support Nights. Shayla Myers, Children’s Director for PHCC, said their goal is to provide monthly support and opportunities to connect with other kinship caregivers. “These families need support and we want to provide them with the opportunity to meet others in similar situations.” Ms. Myers further explained that, “education is the key component when working with these families”. In the future, PHCC would like to provide monthly dinners, with childcare, for families to learn about different topics/concerns, such as available financial support and services, motivating teens throughout the school year and handling childhood behaviors that relate to foster and kinship care.
Jeffrey Cash serves Chattooga, Cherokee, Gordon, Murray, Pickens, Walker and Whitfield Counties. He can be reached at his office at 706-692-4733 or at email@example.com. For more information about the PHCC ministry, foster family events or kinship family events, please contact the church at 770-735-3057 or Kasey@pleasanthillchristianchurch.com.
The next Pickens Family Connection Collaborative meeting will be held at 8:30 a.m. December 13, 2017, at the Pickens County Government Offices. To learn more about PFC, contact Jacque Elwarner, Coordinator, at 706-253-2319 or visit our website at http://pickens.gafcp.org. We look forward to seeing you in December!