There are nearly 8,000 children in the foster care system in Georgia, and 600 age out of the system each year. Statistics for foster kids can be troubling, with 1 in 4 becoming homeless within two years. Children in foster homes have twice the rate of post-traumatic stress disorder as Gulf War veterans. But organizations like CHRIS Kids not only provide crucial services to foster children, they also help young adults transition into the community for brighter futures.
Based in Atlanta, CHRIS Kids began with three specialized group homes for children who were unable to thrive in foster homes, and expanded over the years with family-focused outreach and community-based services. In 2007, CHRIS Kids opened a counseling center that is open to the public. Each year over 2,000 people receive behavioral, mental health and substance abuse services.
CHRIS Kids created the first housing and services program in the Southeast for homeless youth ages 17-21, including a special focus on gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or questioning youth. The combination of all of these programs help foster kids become self-sufficient adults, breaking the cycle of abuse that can lead to a need for foster care.
In this video, CHRIS Kids CEO Kathy Colbenson discusses how the organization has been able to make a difference in thousands of people's lives. Corporate partners like Georgia-Pacific are vital to the program's work, contributing products, providing monetary support and helping to spread the word.
"CHRIS Kids is in the business of not only saving one life like mine, but they're in the business of saving thousands of kids' lives," says Thomas Watson, CHRIS Kids board member and former client.