ATLANTA — There are more foster kids in the Georgia system today than ever before.
The new director at Georgia’s Department of Family and Children Services said they are reaching out to help more children in crisis.
The Barlow family in Paulding County fostered five children, then made their family of six official. But many more kids, a record number in the state, need a safe place to stay.
In 2013, 7,600 children were in state-sponsored foster care. Now, it's 15,005 with a recent spike.
“In the past four months, we had 877 children come in to care, that’s more than the children that we have in Fulton County as a whole,” said the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services director Virginia Pryor.
Pryor told Channel 2's Linda Stouffer the system is stretched.
“We have not seen that level of children come in the foster care system in that rapid a pace,” Pryor said.
Pryor said the cause in the spike is drugs.
“It really is, it’s the opioid crisis that is the primary reason,” Pryor said.
She said parents high on pain pills or heroin lose track, and children are neglected or left in danger.
That's why they are asking people to consider changing the blueprint of a child's life -- as a foster family.
One solution: finding more relatives who can help out, especially with temporary care while the parents get treatment.
“Connected to folks who love them, connected to their culture and community, I think that’s important and if we can help support them, I want to be a part of doing that,” Pryor said.
And if a relative goes through regular foster parent training, they could even get some financial support from the state.
“Any time a child finds a forever home or get adopted, that’s a win for a child, whether it's relatives or what I’ll say, a soon-to-be-relative,” Pryor said.
More than a quarter of Georgia's foster children are back with their parents in about a year.
May is "Foster Care Month."
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