First Lady Mary Perdue Announces Champion Our Children Month
|Friday, September 1, 2006||
Contact: Office of Communications 404-651-7774
ATLANTA—Today First Lady Mary Perdue announced September as Champion Our Children Month to encourage all Georgians to dedicate volunteer hours to foster children during the month.
"My desire is that Georgians will discover the unique opportunities to make a difference within their local communities," said First Lady Mary Perdue. "We need businesses, faith organizations, civic groups and individuals to get involved in their area for the sake of our foster children."
During Champion Our Children month, the First Lady will encourage Georgians to identify needs in their community and volunteer their time and resources to abused and neglected children. She will tour the state hosting 15 volunteer activities in order to personally deliver the message of community involvement. Some of the activities will include building a garden patio at a child advocacy center, hosting child advocate appreciation events and coordinating clothing and book drives for group foster homes.
The cities included as part of the Champion Our Children Month tour are Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Cumming, Dalton, Dublin, Marietta, McDonough, Savannah, Rome, Toccoa, Warner Robins and Waycross.
Governor Sonny Perdue and First Lady Mary Perdue will host a Foster Family Appreciation night at the Governor’s Mansion on Wednesday, September 2, 2006, to kick off the 15-city tour. The event will feature a cookout and a carnival for current foster parents and their children, as well as potential foster families. The evening will include a bluegrass band and activities such as a moonwalk obstacle course, a magician, a face painter, a balloon artist, carnival food including an ice cream sundae bar and a petting zoo with animals from Zoo Atlanta.
The First Lady’s Our Children Campaign, launched in 2003, recognizes outstanding organizations as "Champions for Children." Since the launch of this initiative, 74 new Champions for Children have been announced, including 25 Georgia corporations, 31 faith–based organizations and 18 civic groups. Each of these groups represents new or increased involvement with foster children in their community.
The goal of the Our Children Campaign is to increase the level of volunteerism and in-kind and financial contributions to Georgia’s child serving organizations. Currently, there are over 16,000 children in foster care in Georgia. Eighty percent of the children who come into the system are victims of neglect.
However, since March 2004, there have been 40 percent fewer child abuse and neglect cases substantiated, meaning a significant drop in the caseload for child protective services. Also during this time, more than 27,000 families from DFCS child protective services have been redirected into other community services to help stabilize and rebuild those families. Due to the Governor’s budget inclusion of 500 new DFCS caseworkers, the average caseload per case manager has decreased in the last year from 26 to 17 cases per worker.
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.