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Believe 2017 to help area children

LaGRANGE – On June 20 and June 22 the community is being asked to help local children and to make a commitment to assist children dealing with trauma at Believe 2017.

The event will bring in a series of nationally recognized experts to talk to the community about topics that either directly or indirectly affect everyone in LaGrange and Troup County — children and trauma.

“Fostering Hope”

Believe 2017 is set to kick off on Tuesday, June 20 at 6 p.m. at First Baptist Church’s New Life Building. Those who have made a difference for local foster children will be honored. Nationally renowned author and speaker Sue Badeau will discuss her experiences as a foster parent to 20 children, in addition to her own two children, during the event. She will also discuss what can be done locally for foster children.

“We are facing a real crisis in Troup County – and statewide – around foster care,” said Judge Michael Key. “In almost all of our 159 counties in Georgia, more than half of our children are placed out of county. That means they are separated not only from their families, but from every connection they have in life, and that is whether it is a six-month-old or a 6-year old or a 16-year old. Their church, their recreation folks, their friends, schools. It is really damaging to those children at a time where they really need structure, support and nurturing.”

As of May 31, over 54 percent of children from Troup County in foster care were “inappropriately” placed out of county, meaning that while staying in the county where their friends, schools and church members are would have been what was best for the child, the foster care system was forced to send those children to another county because there are not enough options for places for those children to stay in Troup County.

A total of 39 children from Troup County have been separated from not just their home, but everyone they know in their lives.

“Believe 2017 brings the needs of our foster children to the forefront,” said Laura Jeter of Promise686, a faith based initiative. “Our community is in desperate need of foster homes. With the community resources and ministries like Promise 686- Live the Promise, foster families are born. As members of care groups wrap around foster and adoptive parents, they witness firsthand the life of fostering.

Many times, members of these support groups decide to become involved a little more, which for some results in accepting the call to foster on their own.

As we grow foster parents within our churches and community, we can conquer our goal to allow Troup County children to remain in their familiar surroundings with the stability of the same classmates, teachers, doctors, etc. “

Key emphasized that children entering foster care are not the fault of the Department of Family and Children Services or the justice system, but it is often the only way to ensure that children are somewhere safe, which is why it is so important to honor those who commit themselves to local foster children.

“That (first) night we are going to honor our DFCS foster homes,” Key said. “We are going to honor relatives who have taken in DFCS children so that they didn’t have to be placed in state foster care. We are going to honor Safe Families that is taking in children for shorter and longer periods of time. We are going to honor another faith based movement, Promise686. We are going to honor families who have taken in children whether they’re relatives, neighbors or whoever they are to keep kids from going into foster care at all.

They just come in like people used to do in the small villages and take them in and care for them. We are going to honor anyone, any family who has taken in another child for short of long term that that child needed a place to go for whatever reason.”

Trauma-informed care and

“Paper Tigers”

On Thursday, June 22 Believe will move into its second part, which will consist of training the community on how to recognize and respond to trauma. While Believe 2017 is focused on children in foster care, the training is designed to help community members know how best to respond to trauma in any child – or even adults.

“This is a conference for everyone – from school teachers to parents to grandparents to Sunday school teachers, church staff, church members,” said Candi Gibson of Safe Families. “Everybody comes in contact with people who are traumatized, and even industry and employers (can use this) with some of their employees who have been through trauma and maybe even themselves.”

The training will begin with a screening of “Paper Tigers” at Troup High Fine Arts Auditorium at 8:30 a.m. The award -winning documentary shows how Lincoln Alternative High School reduced fights by 75 percent and raised graduation rates five-fold by changing their disciplinary approach from one of judgement and suspicion to understanding and treatment. Dr. Shanta Dube – who pioneered the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study which has shaped the way many groups think about trauma – will lead a discussion following the movie.

“’Paper Tigers’ is a documentary film about an alternative school in Wala Wala, Washington where the principal just kept wondering what makes these kids do what they do, and he went to a program, and he heard about the ACE study, and for the first time he got it – just like we got it when it first came to us,” Key said.

At 5:30 p.m. that day, Key, the Trauma Responsive Community Project and the Troup County Foster Care Collaborative will host the final event for Believe 2017, a trauma-informed care seminar which will teach community members how to translate trauma-informed principle into practice. The free event is approved to count as two professional training credits for childcare providers.

“It is our goal to make as many people as we can aware of trauma and how it impacts us, how it impacts our children, how it impacts our community, and what we can do about it,” Key said.

“Young children who are traumatized become older children who are traumatized who become older children who are traumatized and have children who they traumatize if we don’t intervene.”

Troup County has a strong system in place to help children dealing with trauma, but those involved with Believe 2017 hope that having a larger community of people trained on trauma care will make the community a better place for everyone.

“We are very blessed to have trauma focused counseling,” Gibson said. “That has proven effective in our community. It is really rare to have.”

To learn more about Believe 2017 call 1-800-BELIEVE or visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/believe-2017-stressed-brains-cant-learn-a-shift-in-perspective-trauma-informed-care-tickets-34774269777 or https://believe2017expandingtic.eventbrite.com or https://believe2017-fosteringhope.eventbrite.com