“The expansion is just to really be able to serve more birth parents,” said David Shaw, project manager for Rejuvenate Hope and principal of The Washington Group. “The original grant [with Georgia’s Division of Family and Children Services] called for us to work within five counties in Region 3. Bartow and Cherokee were not included but as of this month we’re able to expand into those counties.
“... The two objectives that the state has are to speed up the reunification of birth parents with their children who are in foster care and to provide a safety net or a support mechanism to try to make sure those kids don’t come back into care.”
To participate in the program, which is partnering with Highland Rivers and The Washington Group, birth parents need to have at least one child in DFCS foster care, a concurrent or reunification plan and have documented substance abuse issues. The birth parents and their child or children also need to live in one of the Region 3 counties, which Rejuvenate Hope is serving — Bartow, Cherokee, Douglas, Floyd, Polk, Haralson and Paulding.
According to a press release provided by Bartow Collaborative, “Rejuvenate Hope is a promising program expanding to Bartow County to enhance permanency and reunification for our foster care population.
“... The core components of the model will be the development of mentors from the church community in Region 3 who will be equipped to serve our birth parents in a variety of ways intended to increase positive permanency outcomes as well as an evidenced-based curriculum designed to strengthen the family unit. The program provides mentors to sixty-five birth parents whose child/children are in DFCS foster care and who are working through substance abuse issues.”
For those wanting to serve as birth parent mentors, spots are still available for a training session Saturday and Nov. 9 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Floyd County Division of Family and Children Services.
“[The training is] for really anyone who’s interested in learning more and for people who have decided they want to be a mentor,” Shaw said. “So the learning points are an understanding of the foster care system. We want them to know how [it works], because it’s strange language to most folks. So when we talk about a case plan, [such as] how can we help this family get through this case plan faster, they’ll know what we’re talking about. They’ll know the legal process.
“... It’s also a requirement that the birth parents of this program have a documented substance abuse issue in their background. They don’t have to be actively in a substance abuse program, but there has to be that documentation in their file. So we’re going to spend another three and a half hours on giving them a primer about substance abuse.”
For more information about Rejuvenate Hope and its training session, contact Shaw at firstname.lastname@example.org or 404-276-3338.