Georgia DFCS director visits Hinesville following toddlers’ deaths

Georgia DFCS director visits Hinesville following toddlers’ deaths

HINESVILLE, Ga. (WTOC) - The director of the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services visited Hinesville Wednesday. He visited with case workers in Liberty County following the September deaths of 3-year-old twins Raelynn and Payton Keyes.

They died at the home of their foster mother’s boyfriend. A WTOC investigation revealed the foster mother had been told not to leave the children there. Security cameras at a neighbor’s home showed the toddlers climbing into a car. They died from heat strokes.

Claudette Foster, the foster mother of the children, is now charged with neglect and second-degree murder. WTOC asked the director about the fact that the children died in foster care after being taken from their biological parents over safety concerns.

"We are doing so with the hope and the expectation that that will be a safer placement for the child. You know, you can be driving down the road in your car, following all the rules, obeying the speed limit and still have an accident,” Georgia DFCS Director Tom Rawlings said. “Sometimes that's what happens when children are in foster care. It's very, very rare though."

Foster had a green card, which is enough to be a foster parent in Georgia.

“We do not have a citizenship requirement for foster care. In fact, we really need ethnically diverse foster parents because we of course do from time to time have children who speak different languages, who have different cultures, and we want a foster parent population that reflects the ethnic diversity of the state,” Rawlings said.

Tragic cases like this cause the agency to look at policy and see if changes should be made. but Rawlings doesn’t believe this case will change the policy on foster parent requirements. He said foster parent requirements are already strict enough.

“We want to make sure that anyone who is here legally with the ability to work can become a foster parent,” Rawlings said. “What we try to do then is to look at each situation very carefully, not reacting, but being proactive to try to balance those needs. It would be, I think, foolish to react in a way that we suddenly changed everything we’re doing.”

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