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Child welfare summit coming to Hinesville
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Area juvenile court judges, child welfare workers, school leaders, police officers and others concerned with neglected and abused children will gather in Hinesville on Friday to discuss ways to improve the handling of such cases in southeast Georgia.
The Supreme Court of Georgia's Committee on Justice for Children in partnership with the Office of the Child Advocate and the Division of Family and Children Services is hosting a Justice for Children Summit at Savannah Technical College-Liberty Campus from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
The purpose of the summit is to draw together those involved in the plight of children who come in contact with the state's child welfare system. Juvenile Court Chief Judge Benjamin P. Brinson will kick off the meeting and Juvenile Court Judges C. Jean Bolin and Linnie Darden III are also scheduled to participate.
The meeting will include the release of new data showing the rate of children placed in foster care in Bryan, Evans, Liberty, Long, McIntosh and Tattnall counties, their length of stay, the numbers eventually returned to their birth families and the numbers of children who are adopted. The data will be compared to data from other counties.
Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears and Justice P. Harris Hines also will welcome participants with videotaped messages asking for there to be more focus on fathers and warning about the dangers of children lost in the system.
"A recent federal review of Georgia's child welfare system indicated that fathers and paternal relatives are often overlooked as potential resources for our children," Sears said. "I encourage each of you to actively engage fathers in case planning and to look to paternal relatives as both a placement and a family support resource."
Hines added, "There are nearly 13,000 children in foster care in Georgia. National statistics tell us that when these children age out of care at age 18, 1 in 4 will be in jail within 2 years, 1 in 5 will become homeless."
Committee on Justice for Children Deputy Project Director Beth Locker said by the close of the summit, the goal is for participants to combine these and other suggestions to create a specific plan to improve the lives of young people in the state's child welfare system.
For more information, call Locker at 404-463-5227 or 404-317-8242.
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