Thursday, January 17, 2008

Governor unifies child welfare agencies

Governor unifies child welfare agenciesBy S.A. REIDThe Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionPublished on: 01/17/08
Gov. Sonny Perdue announced Thursday that he is combining four child welfare agencies.
The Children's Trust Fund Commission combined with the Children and Youth Coordinating Council to form the new Governor's Office for Children and Families.
programs while the council focuses its work on juvenile delinquency and teen pregnancy prevention.
Perdue also said the Office of the Child Advocate, which oversees the state's child protection system, will also assume the responsibilities of the Office of Child Fatality Review, which studies and works to prevent child deaths.
Perdue's goal is improved coordination, communication and effectiveness in the state's child welfare efforts. The consolidation also could, he added, save the state $500,000 in administrative cost that could be funneled into direct services to children.
"We need a unified approach," Perdue said, adding later, "Our action today represents a step forward."
No layoffs are planned, but some staff could be reassigned to eliminate duplication of duties, he said.
Perdue made the changes administratively, but plans to submit legislation this session to make them permanent. Officials hope to get that done by July 1.
The Governor's Office of Children and Families also will serve as the new home for First Lady Mary Perdue's Children's Cabinet and be run by Jen Bennecke, Trust Fund Commission executive director. It will share space with the newly expanded Office of the Child Advocate.
For at least one child advocate, the reorganization and consolidation doesn't go far enough.
"The title sounds terrific," said Rick McDevitt, president of the Georgia Alliance for Children. "But without major restructuring of the Department of Family and Children Services, the Division of Mental Health and the Department of Juvenile Justice, I'm not excited."