The Georgia House of Representatives has nixed the absorption of the Family Connection Partnership and its funding into the Governor’s Office of Children and Families (GOCF), an agency created in 2008 by then-Governor Sonny Perdue. The Senate has not yet voted on the appropriations. Officials of the GOFC had said folding the Partnership into their agency would save the state money and simplify access to information and services. Opponents of the move countered that consolidating the entities could undermine the Partnership’s commitment to community-based decision-making, jeopardize its private funding, and increase the size of state government. The House even included notes emphasizing its decision to quash the proposed transfer of the Partnership, a 20-year-old statewide public-private collaboration with an $8 million budget.
Buried in the Governor’s budget is a plan that is stirring up conflict among children’s advocates in Georgia, pitting supporters of two child welfare agencies against each other. The plan would fold the Georgia Family Connection Partnership, a 20-year old statewide public-private collaboration, and its budget of nearly $8 Million into the Governor’s Office for Children and Families (GOCF) effective July 1, 2011. Currently the Partnership is attached to the Department of Human Services. Officials of the GOCF say the change would save the state money and simplify access to information and services. Opponents of the move counter that it would undermine the Partnership’s commitment to community-based decision-making, jeopardize its private funding, and increase the size of state government.
Georgia ranks near the bottom on almost every index of child well-being charted by KIDS COUNT, the annual survey that tracks children and families in all 50 states. While the state has made progress on issues like child deaths, teen pregnancy and high school graduation rates, Georgia sits at #42. So when 500 people who provide services for children got together this week at the Georgia Conference on Children and Families, they had plenty to talk about. Leaders of the largest state agencies and non-profits who guide child policy came together in front of a full house on Wednesday to send a message about sharing common goals and measuring progress with data. “We have to work together by developing outcomes we agree to and track,” said Normer Adams, executive director of the Georgia Association of Homes and Services for Children. “Child welfare has changed so much over the years it really needed a break from the past. We have moved away from the model of child rescue to the model of family restoration. It’s more informed by research and outcomes than in the past. What we know from research is that children are best cared for by their families.”