Could local organizations work together to help parents and families so that their children never end up in foster care?
That’s the goal of State of Hope, a new initiative of the Georgia Division of Family and Children’s Services.
Organizations are encouraged to work together and apply for seed funding and technical support through State of Hope. One-time grants can range from $500 to $75,000.
“Every year thousands of children come to the attention of the division whether it is for abuse or neglect,” said Georgia DFCS Director Virginia Pryor. “Imagine if we could prevent that – by the very nature of our collective impact."
Organizations and everyday people could partner to have an opportunity to help improve outcomes, Pryor said.
Coweta CASA – Court Appointed Special Advocates – is looking into the program.
However, with a deadline of July 20 for the first funding cycle, the organization won’t be ready to apply. The initiative was announced on June 25.
There will likely be two funding cycles per year, said Walter Jones, director of communications and legislative affairs for DFCS. The next application deadline will be in the winter.
“The point of the new initiative is to encourage community groups to collaborate with one another,” Jones said. “Their efforts are magnified by working with other groups."
A big part of the initiative is to create a new mindset in favor of “that kind of collaboration, which we see as a way of preventing the kinds of factors that lead to our children coming into state care,” Jones said.
The application is a few pages long, but simpler than a typical grant request. And the parameters are pretty wide open.
“We want to open it up to people’s creativity,” Jones said. “The ultimate goal is that if you have communities working together and supporting families, then you have fewer needs for the state agencies like ours to get involved.”
In addition to providing the seed funding to get the collaborations kicked off, “we also want to create a network of people who are involved in these kinds of projects so that they can compare notes and share ideas,” Jones said. “Because I think that is part of what we see as the magic of this.”
There will be a fair amount of technical assistance provided by the state, in addition to any financial award, Jones said.
Sherrie Pepper, volunteer coordinator for Coweta CASA, said the group is looking into the program.
“It is going to take some time to get all of the groups together to work on it,” she said. “We’re going to have to have a lot of meetings with a lot of different folks before we can know how we’re going to put it together.”
“If there are agencies out there that would be willing to come together to work on it we would certainly be willing to have some kind of roundtable discussion about it,” Pepper said.
For more information about State of Hope, visit www.dfcs.georgia.gov/state-hop...