First Lady Mary Perdue Announces Third Annual Statewide Summit on Our Children, August 8 - 11
|Friday, August 5, 2005||
Contact: Office of Communications 404-651-7774
Third Annual Summit to Launch Foster Family Foundation of Georgia
ATLANTA —First Lady Mary Perdue announced today the third annual Summit on Our Children designed to promote awareness and activism in caring for Georgia 's foster children. The First Lady's Our Children Campaign targets corporate, faith and civic outreach organizations across the state, and encourages them to increase the level of volunteerism and financial or in-kind contributions to Georgia's child serving organizations.
The summit will begin on Monday, August 8th at the Georgia Public Broadcasting studio in Atlanta . It will continue on a four day tour throughout Georgia . The six other host cities include: Albany , Augusta , Dalton , Gainesville , Macon and Savannah .
"I am excited about the opportunity to reach out to these communities on a more personal level," said First Lady Mary Perdue. "We continue to see an increased interest in the well-being of our state's foster children. Each year, the summit continues to grow and thrive. I hope that this year's summit will continue to encourage community involvement with Georgia 's foster children."
The Summit on Our Children is designed to expose people who have never been involved with foster children to the current needs in their communities. Governor Sonny Perdue and First Lady Mary Perdue will open the summit in Atlanta with remarks, drawing from their personal experience as foster parents to eight infants awaiting adoption.
The First Lady's Our Children Campaign, launched in 2003 recognizes outstanding organizations such as Champions for Children. Since the launch of the First Lady's Champions for Children initiative, 54 new Champions for Children have been announced, including 23 Georgia corporations, 22 faith –based communities and nine civic organizations . Each of these groups represents new or increased involvement with foster children within their community.
Until recently, the Our Children Campaign had focused solely on recognizing corporate and faith community involvement. In February 2005, the First Lady launched an effort to include civic organizations in the Champions for Children program, such as rotaries and optimist clubs, which now qualify as Civic Champions for Children by demonstrating certain practices set aside for supporting Georgia's abused and neglected children.
"The Kiwanis Club of Atlanta is indeed honored to be a Civic Champion for Children," said Kiwanis Club of Atlanta President Bob Clayton. "Children are the future of our community and it is up to us to invest in their future to secure our own future. We try to do this one child at a time, serving the neediest among us as best we can."
The summit will also serve as the launch for the Foster Family Foundation of Georgia created by the First Lady's Children's Cabinet . The foundation will be an independent, not-for-profit organization with a core mission to recruit, train, and support both foster and adoptive families.
"Georgia needs more foster and adoptive parents so children can grow up in safe, loving homes. Thanks to First Lady Mary Perdue's leadership, we are putting in place a statewide strategy to address the challenges of recruitment," said Department of Human Resources Commissioner B.J. Walker. "The Foster Family Foundation is a tremendous step forward in helping us find more families that are willing and able to give children a good home."
The goals of the foundation are to increase the number of available foster parents , strengthen the recruitment process for families a nd ease the retention of foster homes. The Foster Family Foundation of Georgia will develop strategies such as new fingerprinting technology to shorten the approval waiting period for families from several weeks to a matter of hours. The foundation is also working on statewide database of approved foster and adoptive parents.
In 2003 the Department of Family and Child Services received more than 90,000 reports of child abuse. Approximately 80 percent of those children were victims of severe neglect. More than 16,000 children are in foster care, and half of those children have been in state custody for more than 16 months. Despite progress, Georgia still ranks 39 out of 50 states in overall child well being according to Kids Count a project of Family Connections.
To find out more information or to learn how you can support the foster children in your community, visit www.gov.state.ga.us and follow the link to the First Lady's Our Children Campaign or call 1-866-786-6661.