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Governor Names Group to Suggest Overhaul of Georgia's Child Welfare Services

Gov. Nathan Deal has named the members of the Child Welfare Reform Council which was created in March to improve the state’s child welfare system.

Gov. Nathan Deal on Wednesday named the members of the Child Welfare Reform Council. File|Patch
Gov. Nathan Deal on Wednesday named the members of the Child Welfare Reform Council. File|Patch

A mix of child advocates, juvenile court judges, and lawmakers are among those who have been appointed to a state council that will suggest reforms to Georgia’s child welfare services.

Gov. Nathan Deal on Wednesday named the members of the Child Welfare Reform Council, which was created in March to improve the state’s child welfare system.

The council was created as the Georgia House and Senate were stuck during this year’s legislative session over differing plans to privatize most child welfare services, reports WABE. The governor has tasked the council members with reviewing the Division of Family and Children Services and suggesting possible reforms and legislative fixes to the agency.

“With this council now in place, it is our hope to uncover new approaches that will strengthen our child welfare system and ensure that Georgia’s children are given the best shot at a good life,” Deal said in a statement. “These appointees have dedicated themselves to improving the lives of children, and I feel confident that together they will produce meaningful and thoughtful reform recommendations." 

The council will meet throughout the remainder of this year to complete its review and recommend action. Stephanie Blank will chair the council and will work in conjunction with the Governor’s Office and the Department of Human Services.

Council members are:

  • Ashley Willcott, Office of the Child Advocate, from Dunwoody
  • Judge Steve Teske, Juvenile Court of Clayton County, from Jonesboro
  • Judge Peggy Walker, Juvenile Court of Douglas County, from Douglasville
  • Melissa Carter, Barton Child Law and Policy Center, from Decatur
  • Donna Hyland, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, from Atlanta
  • Dr. Cheryl Dozier, Savannah State University, from Savannah
  • Meredith Ramaley, Smyrna Police Department, from Smyrna
  • Heather Rowles, Multi-Agency Alliance for Children, from Atlanta
  • Tyra Walker, WinShape Homes Director for Chick-fil-a, Inc., from Jonesboro
  • Crystal Williams, EmpowerMEnt & Former Foster Youth, from Atlanta
  • Lamar Burkett, foster parent and advocate, from Moultrie
  • Bob Bruder-Mattson, The United Methodist Children’s Home, from Roswell
  • Valerie Condit, Fulton County Schools, from Atlanta
  • Duaine Hathaway, Georgia CASA, from Newnan
  • Carolyn Hugley, State Representative from Columbus
  • Valerie Clark, State Representative from Lawrenceville
  • Wendell Willard, State Representative from Sandy Springs
  • Freddie Powell Sims,  State Senator from Albany
  • Burt Jones, State Senator from Jackson
  • Fran Millar, State Senator from Dunwoody
Tammy Osier April 03, 2014 at 06:35 AM
Working with juvenile offenders and social services for the past 21 years, I can tell you that social services for children and the juvenile justice system are two of the most neglected services most states have. I'm glad to see that we have a governor that is giving attention to these areas. If we want to fix what ails society, start young and catch them while they have a chance to start over with better skills and a new outlook on life. I have several stories of kids whose families and themselves got it turned around before they reached adulthood due to volunteer services and grants from the government. I just wish we had more money allotted to some of these programs that work. I don't mind paying taxes when I know that some of it goes to programs that can show tangible results.
janh999 April 03, 2014 at 07:59 AM
Hopefully our youth will take a turn for the good. From what I see on a daily basis it needs an overhaul. To bad a mandatory parenting class for people under 21 couldn't be enforced because there are a lot of young parents out there not doing their children or our communities any justice by the way they act in front of them & what they are learning from it. More money should be invested in our youth.

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