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First Lady Mary Perdue Announces Formation of a Children's Cabinet

Tuesday, October 26, 2004  Contact: Office of Communications 404-651-7774


Cabinet unveils first project aimed at public awareness in schools

ATLANTA, GA—First Lady Mary Perdue announced today the creation of the Children's Cabinet. The Cabinet, comprised of representatives from various state agencies, was officially formed on July 1, 2004. Since that time, members have worked to establish the Cabinet's core mission: to stem abuse and neglect, promote foster care and adoption, and raise public awareness of children's issues in general. Through this cooperative effort, the First Lady seeks to achieve greater success in coordinating policies and programs dispersed throughout state government. She also intends to make vital services more accessible to children, families and communities across the state.

"Each of the members of my Cabinet plays a critical role in the safety and protection of Georgia's children and I'm optimistic, that together, we can achieve great results," said First Lady Mary Perdue. "By streamlining essential services and pooling resources, we can improve the quality of life for children in state custody, as well as for families in need."

Cabinet unveils first of a kind initiative

The Cabinet is pleased to announce the first statewide mandated reporter video, "Kids Count on You." This tool is designed to train all school personnel, including but not limited to teachers, custodial workers, counselors, food service staff, and school bus drivers on how and when to report suspected cases of child abuse. A mandated reporter is any person who interacts with children within the school system and is legally required to report any suspected incidents of child abuse. The intent of the video is to ensure school employees receive consistent and comprehensive information, receive training on how to properly recognize child maltreatment and how to report misconduct to the appropriate authorities.

"This is the first time I have witnessed a true collaborative effort to send a consistent message of this nature to Georgia's educators," said Dee Simms of Office of the Child Advocate. "Many of these mandated reporters are not aware of the indicators of child abuse and proper steps necessary to report."

The production of this video was made possible through the contributions of numerous public and private organizations. Shaw Industries provided the facilities and personnel to produce the video. Funding for the project was provided by the Children's Trust Fund Commission, the Children and Youth Coordinating Council, and the Office of the Child Advocate for the Protection of Children. In conjunction with the First Lady's Children's Cabinet, the other entities providing support and information are the Buford City School System, Catoosa County School System, Children and Youth Coordinating Council, Children's Trust Fund Commission, Coastal Plains RESA, Family Support Council of Dalton, Georgia, Department of Education, Georgia Division of Family and Children Services, Cici Porter, Prevent Child Abuse Georgia, Professional Standards Commission, and the Whitfield County School System.

Every school in Georgia will receive a copy of the video and social workers and school counselors will be trained on how to instruct school personnel. ‘Train the Trainer' sessions will be conducted at the upcoming School Social Workers' Conference on October 29, 2004 and the School Counselors' Conference on November 8th and 10th, 2004.

Members of the Cabinet include:

• Mary Perdue, Georgia's First Lady, Chair

• BJ Walker, Commissioner, Department of Human Resources (DHR)

• Albert Murray, Commissioner, Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ)

• Tim Burgess, Commissioner, Department of Community Health

• Marsha Moore, Commissioner, Bright from the Start

• Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools

• Stuart Bennett, Chief Deputy State Superintendent of Schools

• Dee Simms, Director, Office of the Child Advocate

• Pete Colbenson, Director, Children and Youth Coordinating Council

• Susan Phillips, Director, Children's Trust Fund Commission

• Eva Patillo, Director, Office of Child Fatality Review

• Bill Reilly, Chief of Staff, DJJ

• Dr. Tom Coleman, Deputy Commissioner, Operations, DJJ

• Rob Rosenbloom, Deputy Commissioner, Program Services, DJJ

• Steve Love, Director, Division of Family and Children Services, DHR

• Gwen Skinner, Director, Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, & Addictive Diseases, DHR

• Kathleen Toomey, Director, Division of Public Health, DHR

The Cabinet is to meet a minimum of once a quarter and meet with the Governor on an annual basis.