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Believe event aims to help foster kids

Local foster parents and local foster organizations gathered together Tuesday to celebrate Troup County’s commitment to foster children, while also recognizing how much work still needs to be done.

The event took place Tuesday in the New Life Building at First Baptist Church on the Square and focused on finding a way to help foster children in Troup County.

“This is a celebration to honor our families, but at the same time we talk about honoring families, we have to acknowledge that we have a crisis in Troup County,” Judge Michael Key said. “We have over 140 children in foster care in Troup County, and that in and of itself is a bit of a crisis. “I can assure you that we do not take children into care that do not have to be taken in for their own safety, and we do everything we can to return children to their families.  Over half of those children are placed out of county — separated not just from their family, but from all their roots in the school system, the (recreation) department, other relatives, anything they know.”

Out of those children, roughly half of them are either with relatives or foster homes where they could be adopted, but the remaining children are left without that community support and without confidence in what their future will hold. Key is challenging the community to step up and find homes for children in the county.

“Bring our children home by Christmas no matter what it takes,” Key challenged.

A large part of his challenge is based on a child’s need for a strong support system, especially after dealing with events traumatic enough to warrant the child needing to be placed in foster care to begin with.

“What we do in our schools and what our foster parents do and what our therapists do — it all has to be connected,” keynote speaker Sue Badeau said. “Children can’t heal from trauma without a family, but children don’t thrive in a family unless people are also helping them heal from their trauma. It is all interconnected.”

Badeau and her husband raised 22 children and fostered 75 children, primarily teenagers in hopes of giving those children the foundation they need to become happy, successful adults.

“Everyone needs one of those no matter what family is in their life,” Badeau said. “Don’t you all think you need a family like that? Someone who has got your back no matter what.”

According to Badeau, it is worth it, but those families need community support to keep going and succeed.

“We all have to come together to make sure that not only are we providing the tools to take care of our children, but we are helping our families have the tools they need to take care of themselves — and I might add our workers,” Badeau said. “All of us in the caregiving world — the case workers, the DFACS workers, everyone who works in the trauma field — we need more attention to those self-care tools.”

Badeau emphasized that if caregivers are not taken care of, then they lose their ability to properly take care of the children that desperately need their care.

“There are many reasons why others so generously open their homes to ensure the safety and wellbeing and needs of children,” County Director of the Department of Family and Children Services Shay Thornton said.

“Each one of us is generally driven by the goodness of our hearts and the passion and the nurturing that we want to give these children.”

The event closed with a final request that everyone within the community look into their hearts and ask if there is anything that they can do to help children in foster care, and ultimately bring them home.

A special screening of the award-winning documentary, Paper Tigers will take place at the Trough High Fine Arts Auditorium at 8:30 a.m. this morning.

A trauma-informed care seminar on translating principle into practice will take place at First Baptist Church on the Square at 5:30 p.m. tonight.