Georgia’s child welfare agency says it’s phasing out the use of hotels as a temporary placement for area foster kids.
The Division of Family and Children Services says it plans to stop using hotels in Fulton and DeKalb Counties by summer next year. Agency officials say they have no hard deadline to phase out so-called “hoteling” for the rest of the state, but the hope is to do so by the end of 2017.
“We’ve been working on this,” DFCS spokesperson Susan Boatwright says. “In the last month we’ve only had to use a hotel placement in Fulton and DeKalb one time, so we’re already seeing some of these efforts pay off.”
Boatwright says these temporary hotel placement were the result of a shortage in foster homes across the state, coupled with a huge spike in the number of children coming into state care. She says that, while a few hundred kids were put in hotels in recent years, these placements only accounted for about 1 percent of the estimated 12,500 kids in state custody.
The plan to end the practice of hoteling in Fulton and DeKalb counties was part of a recent agreement with Children’s Rights, a national organization that filed suit against the division for practices in those two counties back in 2002. As part of a 2005 settlement, court-appointed monitors submit biannual reports to ensure DFCS is complying with the agreement.
While hoteling wasn’t specifically part of the 2005 agreement, Children’s Rights flagged the placement of foster children in hotels in its most recent report, which covered the last half of 2015.
That report says there were 119 children and youth who spent a total 947 nights in hotels in metropolitan Atlanta in the last half of 2015. On average, these children and youth spent close to seven nights in hotels during that time frame, the report said.
Boatwright says children temporarily placed in hotels always have a qualified DFCS staff member with them.
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