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Summit on neglected children Thursday

Judges, child welfare workers, juvenile court attorneys, school leaders, foster parents and others have been invited to meet all day Thursday, July 21, to improve how they handle cases involving abused and neglected children.

The South Georgia Judicial Circuit Justice for Children Summit will be held at the Charles H. Kirbo Regional Center at Bainbridge College from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Continental Breakfast begins at 8:30 a.m.

The summit is sponsored by the Supreme Court of Georgia’s Committee on Justice for Children (J4C) in partnership with the State Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS).

Supreme Court of Georgia Chief Justice Carol W. Hunstein and Justice P. Harris Hines, chair of the Court’s Committee on Justice for Children, will welcome participants via a videotaped message. The Chief Justice will encourage participants to continue to pursue relative placement and guardianship as alternatives when reunification with biological parents is not appropriate.

Speaking on behalf of the children, Justice Hines will remind attendees that research has confirmed that young children’s exposure to extreme stress can impact brain development. He will thank attendees for the work they do to improve the lives of children.

The purpose of the meeting is to draw together all those involved in the plight of children who come in contact with the state’s child welfare system and to formulate action plans for improvement.

Judges Chip Perry and Randall Chew, South Georgia Judicial Circuit Juvenile Court Judges, will kick off the summit, which will include the release of new data showing the rate of children placed in foster care in Baker, Calhoun, Decatur, Grady and Mitchell counties, their length of stay, the number eventually returned to their birth families, and the number of children who are adopted.

The data for each county will be compared to data from other counties in Georgia.

The Committee on Justice for Children is funded by the Federal Court Improvement Project grant designated to each state’s highest court to focus efforts on improving the processing of civil child abuse and neglect cases in juvenile courts across the state.

The DFCS is a part of the Georgia Department of Human Services and investigates child abuse; finds foster homes for abused and neglected children; helps low income, out-of-work parents get back on their feet; assists with childcare costs for low income parents who are working or are in job training; and provides support services to help struggling families.

The summits are part of a strategic plan to bring resources to the local level to support those who work with children and families.

For more information, contact Christopher Church, managing attorney for the Committee on Justice for Children at (404) 463-5227 or (404) 561-4307. His email is christopher.church@gaaoc.us.