A look into the reality of the local foster care system

Friday, February 15, 2019

GROVETOWN, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- More than 700 kids are in the foster system right now across our Georgia region. Shayna Killian was one of them, so she wants to make sure others are not forgotten. That's why she started the Fostering Hope Festival.

Shayna says her story is a hard one to tell.

"Being separated from them left this hole in your heart and you don't really know how to fill it," Shayna said.

But it's one she wants to tell because it made her who she is today.

"I got picked up from school and then we went into the foster system," Shayna said. "I didn't really know what was going on. Then you see your mom and you're taken away from her quickly. All you have is suitcases and all your stuff and then you're going to someone else."

She was 8-years-old when she was put into the foster care system.

"My dad he wasn't the best guy. He got arrested and then we went into foster care."

She and her five siblings were separated. Shayna says she got lucky with a caring, loving family for 17 months. But she knows that's not always the case.

"Two of my siblings were abused in their homes before they were separated."

The reality of foster care is a bleak one she says.

"It's really sad because these kids are already lost by themselves because they're not with their family."

DFACS says the number of kids in foster care in Georgia is high.

"We are desperately seeking people who will help us out and provide a home for these children," Peg Sitler a DFACS case manager said.

And on top of that, there are not enough homes locally.

"We have a limited number of homes in Richmond," Sitler said. "We are really in need of beefing that number up and they're moved to Columbia County and sometimes McDuffie and they have to change school systems."

Shayna says she would not take away her past because it helped her see her purpose.

"They're not receiving all the resources they need so I want to be the one who can give them the resources they need and I also want to show the community you don't necessarily have to be a foster parent to help these kids," Shayna said.

Some of those ways she says you can help is by offering respite care. That is where kids can go if their foster parents needs a break. You can also be a court advocate. Those are people who advocate for the kid to the judge and tell them about their living situation and if they think they're ready to go home.

If you want to become a foster parent or want to adopt, contact the local DFACS office at 706-721-3000.