Around 150 children in Glynn County are currently in foster care, but about 73 of those children have been forced to move out of the county to find a home.
Victoria Hill, who is currently serving as Miss Georgia 2019, shared these statistics at a meeting Monday for the Brunswick Kiwanis Club. Hill, who was crowned Miss Georgia in June, is traveling the state promoting her social justice platform, which aims to raise awareness about the needs of the foster care system in Georgia.
“These statistics are really, really sad,” she said. “We need more than 73 homes right now in Glynn County. We need to step up and say, ‘We want to take care of these children.’”
Hill, a senior vocal performance major at Reinhardt University, has won many awards for her vocal performance and music theater talents. She shared those talents Monday, performing several songs for the meeting attendees.
Hill will compete Dec. 19 in the Miss America 2020 competition. The Miss America program, which Hill said is the largest scholarship organization in the country, has in the last two years awarded her around $60,000 for her college education.
“My bachelor’s degree is completely paid off, and I’m just saving up now for grad school,” she said.
Hill won third runner-up in 2018 in the Ms. Georgia competition, before winning the crown this year.
If she wins the Ms. America title, Hill will travel the country to discuss her ideas to improve the foster care system.
Her “Flip the Script” initiative aims to raise awareness of the foster care system’s many needs, to engage businesses and organizations in the work to meet those needs and to encourage mentorship for young people aging out of foster care.
State legislators recently changed the law to allow young people to stay in the foster care system until they’re 21, rather than 18, Hill told meeting participants.
But, many coming out of the system do not have the kind of support they need, she said.
“What happens is these women turn 18, and they sign out of the program,” Hill said. “And statistics show that within three weeks, three things happen — they either become incarcerated, homeless or pregnant … It’s because they don’t have these connections. They don’t have a mentor. They don’t have an education.”
Hill has interned for several years at a group home called the North Georgia Angel House.
“We work with young women who are ages 12 to 21 in Georgia’s foster care system who could not be placed in a foster care home for one reason or another,” she said.
At the home, Hill started a mentorship program called WINGS, or Women In Need of Growing Stronger.
“I’ve partnered women in the community with these young women in foster care, so that they have a connection, they have somebody that will love them as an individual,” Hill said.
Hill encourages the young women she works with at the group home to pursue education or other opportunities to prepare themselves for employment. She hopes to see the program spread around Georgia.
“That’s why I started this mentorship program, and I’m trying to get it instilled in as many group homes as possible across the state,” she said.