Caring for Georgia's Children
Caring for and meeting the needs of Georgia 's children is an issue which lies close to the Governor and First Lady. They believe that providing a safe and nurturing environment for children is a moral obligation shared by all. Regardless of their age and station in life, children are entitled to love and compassion.
In February 2004, the Governor announced a major reorganization of DFCS to ensure that the safety and risks to children in the foster system are better assessed and that more reliable safety plans are put in place to protect our children. The responsibilities of child protection and economic independence for families are now more clearly defined with the formation of two separate divisions within the agency. Through enhanced training programs, a more professional staff will be developed and caseworker turnover will be reduced. And to support caseworkers in the field, DFCS organized a Rapid Response Team that is deployed to areas in the state experiencing high caseloads.
This year Governor Perdue is directing more than $5 million to fund 500 new caseworkers for the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS). Adding these new frontline caseworkers will help protect children and strengthen families under DFCS supervision by reducing caseloads and staff turnover.
In the first week of the 2004 General Assembly, Governor Perdue introduced a bipartisan Child Protection Package that passed the legislature with broad bipartisan support. On April 9, 2004, he signed this legislation into law during a ceremony at Woodruff Park in Atlanta . This legislation protects children from abusive caregivers, makes it a separate felony to manufacture methamphetamines in the presence of a child, and improves Georgia 's version of the Amber Alert system Levi's Call .
During the 2003 General Assembly, Governor Perdue introduced foster care reform legislation which passed unanimously. The law gives foster parents a stronger voice in the placement decisions affecting children in their care.
Governor Perdue appointed new leadership for the Department of Human Resources (DHR) and DFCS. B.J. Walker, the Commissioner of DHR, has extensive experience in the administration of human services and leading efforts to promote and support the well-being of children and families.
The Governor's Office is working with DFCS to equip caseworkers with state-of-the-art technology. Every DFCS office has been connected to the internet. Caseworkers are now equipped with tablet PCs to help them keep track of the children in their care and share that information seamlessly with new software on these computers.