Gov. Deal honors grandparents and relatives for keeping kids connected to their communities and out of foster care

August 31, 2015

ATLANTA – Gov. Nathan Deal today joined Georgia’s Human Services Commissioner Robyn A. Crittenden and Family and Children Services Director Bobby Cagle to honor more than 250,000 grandparents and relatives who have stepped up to care for Georgia’s most vulnerable children.

Deal has declared September Kinship Care Month in Georgia, a designation to recognize those who serve as primary caregivers to children in their extended families.

Relatives are among Georgia’s greatest assets in protecting children from abuse and neglect and in keeping children connected to their communities.

“Sandra and I believe that children are Georgia’s most precious resource,” said Deal. “As a community, we must do all in our power to ensure every child has an opportunity to grow up in a safe and supportive environment. In certain cases, circumstances dictate that a child must be separated from his/her primary caregivers and placed in the care of other relatives. I commend those next of kin who choose to undertake the safekeeping of children in these challenging and unpredictable situations, and I greatly appreciate The Kinship Care Program for working to provide resources and support for those families.”

In the last year, relatives were responsible for more than 6,100 children exiting foster care in Georgia. Of the more than 10,000 children in foster care today, nearly a quarter of them are in the care of a relative. Many more have been prevented from ever entering the system because of relative caregivers.

“A child who has been the victim of difficult circumstances doesn’t need additional trauma in his life,” said Cagle, the director of the Division of Family and Children Services. “When relatives step up to the plate, we can be sure that children have some stability at a time when their biological parents cannot care for them. This stability goes a long way towards offering a child a greater chance of succeeding in school and feeling a part of a community.”

In 2012, Georgia had the sixth largest number of grandparents living with grandchildren in the United States. Georgia’s Kinship Care program supports relatives through financial, health and wellness, child care and legal support services. Georgia’s program has been so successful that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families has lauded it as a model for other states.

“The families we serve in the Kinship Care program demonstrate that you don’t have to go to Gotham to find a superhero,” said DHS Commissioner Crittenden. “In Georgia, these superheroes live in a place much closer to home—a place called ‘grandma’s house.’ While we know theirs is a labor of love, we want to make sure these superheroes in our state get the resources they need to keep their families healthy and connected to their communities.”

This year’s theme for Kinship Care month is KINect Georgia: Keeping Kids Connected. For local events honoring Georgia’s kinship care providers during the month of September, follow the Georgia Department of Human Services on Facebook and on Twitter: @GaDHS.