Children’s Agencies Push for Data Driven Progress, Common Goals at Statewide Conference

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.”

Welfare Watch – GA Conference on Children and Families

Welfare Watch – September 23, 2010 – Georgia Conference on Children and Families

The Georgia Conference on Children and Families (GCCF) comes at a most appropriate time.  Georgia’s way of caring for its at-risk children in its child welfare, juvenile justice, behavioral health and developmental disabilities systems is rapidly changing. It is a time of sometimes overwhelming rapid change with new paradigms of thinking and acting. This economic crisis is causing both public and private agencies to identify their core activities.  Data is becoming increasing important as it drives all direct services to evidence based practices.  Family and community are important players in the system that once only had the “experts”  at the table.  The panacea of programs has been replaced with systems of care that includes all aspects of the child’s life. This Conference serves the needs of stakeholders in child welfare to understand this change and even to embrace it. Just as Georgia is being seen as one of the leading states in the nation in child welfare work, stakeholders are struggling to keep up.