There are roughly 230 foster children in Glynn County who are having to be sent to temporary homes outside of the county, more than Marci Bourland would like.
As area managing director of FaithBridge Foster Care since December, she is hoping to keep as many foster children near their birth homes as possible.
And there is plenty of work to do.
FaithBridge, an organization that leverages faith-based, church communities to help foster families provide care for children, came to Glynn County in February 2014 after its founder and CEO, Bill Hancock, discovered Glynn County ranked sixth per capita in the state with 230 children in the state Department Family and Children Services system. That’s No. 6 in a state with 159 counties.
The major problem was the small number of families willing to provide foster care — 30.
Since then, FaithBridge has been able to work with family services to place nine foster children with nine families in Glynn County and is slated to add another family soon, Bourland said.
“We are growing, and we have been trying to plan ahead,” Bourland said.
Adding 10 more families in Glynn County bumps the total to around 40, a trend she hopes to continue.
“We would love to have 65 to 75 (foster) homes here in Glynn County,” Bourland said.
Taking in a child is not the only way to contribute to the care of a foster child. FaithBridge works with local churches to train and certify what they call respite families who provide short term care and transportation for foster parents who may want a break.
The organization also collects donations of items foster families may need for foster care.
“There are many ways to get involved,” Bourland said. “It is a community of care.”
As a licensed pastor in the United Methodist Church and a adoptive parent who is also caring for a foster child, Bourland knows first-hand how important it is to have that community support. Prior to working with the Methodist Church in Savannah, she was also a social worker.
Having that experience makes her role as area director in Glynn County all the more special.
“I think this is a natural fit,” Bourland said. “I get to do what I love.”
The best part of her job is seeing children reunited with their families who have completed their case plans through DFCS and are ready to take care of them again.
“They are always best with family,” Bourland said.
FaithBridge is scheduled to transition its first foster child back to the birth family this week, she added.
She hopes as word spreads about FaithBridge, more willing and capable people will go through the 20 hours of training required to become foster parents.
Most of the foster parents so far have learned of the organization through word of mouth, something Bourland said may change in February when it partners with Heart Gallery of Georgia to illustrate Glynn County’s need for more foster parents.
From Feb. 1 to Feb. 15, Heart Gallery and FaithBridge will display photographic collages of children available for adoption in churches, shopping malls and other public places around Glynn County.