Georgia Public Broadcasting recently had the privilege of hosting the 2nd Annual First Lady's Summit on Our Children, an event sponsored by Georgia First Lady Mary Perdue and designed to galvanize community resources on behalf of Georgia's abused and neglected children. The Summit was held at the Georgia Public Broadcasting facility in Atlanta and simulcast to seven regional sites, including Augusta, Columbus, Dalton, Gainesville, Macon, Savannah, and Tifton, which held workshops simultaneously.
Mrs. Perdue, who said she was "inspired by the response the Our Children Campaign has received since the first annual Summit held at GPB in 2003," declared that the goal behind the Our Children Campaign is "to raise awareness about these children" and that the highest priority is to determine how to "provide for, educate, and protect our children."
According to the Protective Services Data System Report, Georgia received 92,612 reports of child abuse in 2003 alone. Of the cases that were determined to valid instances of child abuse, 39, 538 were victims of severe neglect, 4, 791 were physically abused, and 2,285 were sexually abused (http://dhr.georgia.gov). As of July 2003, the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services was responsible for the care of 14,481 children, of whom 7,925 were in foster care (http://dfcs.dhr.georgia.gov/). A final sobering fact, according to Kids Count, is that Georgia ranks 40 out of 50 states in overall child well being (http://www.aecf.org). Statistics such as these make the important work Mrs. Perdue is conducting through the Our Children Campaign even more valuable.
With the goal of helping Georgia's children squarely in mind, the 2nd Annual Summit began with a welcome from Georgia Public Broadcasting Interim Executive Director Nancy Hall, each of the regional sites, First Lady Mary Perdue, and Governor Sonny Perdue. After welcoming remarks, a video entitled The 11th Commandment with singer Collin Raye, of ChildHelp USA was shown. Guest speaker Naomi Haines Griffith then shared her personal comments about the state of child welfare and the need for initiatives such as the First Lady's Our Children Campaign.
After remarks were concluded, participants broke out into work groups, which focused on raising support from community groups in the following key areas:
* Department of Family and Children's Services and the Courts
* Housing and Services
* Foster and Adoptive Parents
Once the groups completed their work, all of the Summit participants came together to share their suggestions for better ways to secure support for Georgia's children and to hear Mrs. Perdue's charge to action.
To date, the Campaign has received commitments from 29 Champions for Children, corporations and faith communities that have made an obligation to their community or organization to volunteer on behalf of any become involved with the cause of children in state custody. If you would like to learn more about the plight of Georgia's abused and neglected children and how YOU can make a difference in their lives, watch the 2nd Annual Summit online at http://www.gpb.org/peachstar/www/script/news/aug04/summit.asp or contact the Campaign at http://www.gov.state.ga.us/summit_fl/index.shtml.