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Among other good news for children in the healthcare reform bill passed by Congress on March 23 is a commitment to reduce child abuse and neglect through home visitation programs.  The bill authorizes $1.5 billion over five years to be awarded as grants to states for services to families with infants and young children.  

Here’s the challenge for Georgia:  In order to receive funds the state must conduct assessments of factors indicating need for services and existing home visiting programs to ensure better targeting and coordination.   The assessments must be done within six months, and the clock started ticking on March 23. 

Which of our state agencies will step forward to lead this effort?  DFCS which has about $900,000 in one model of home visitation?  Public Health which is newly re-organizing with a strong interest but no designated funding?  The Governor’s Office for Children and Families which absorbed the Children’s Trust Fund , once but no longer a major source of home visiting funding?  The Department of Early Care and Learning which has an inherent interest in the age group but no history or funding for early intervention programs?

Georgia’s children desperately need these programs.  Child abuse is greatest among very young children.  Home visitation programs have proven to reduce child abuse and neglect and have promise of improving child development for later learning.  Advocates need to step up and encourage state agency leadership and collaboration to get these assessments done now.  The clock is ticking.

Pat Willis, Executive Director

Voices for Georgia’s Children, www.georgiavoices.org

Raise your voice for Georgia’s children and families!

Join us at a RALLY FOR REVENUES on Tuesday, March 23rd at 2 pm at the Georgia State Capitol (Washington Street Side).

State budget cuts are already threatening access to health providers, education, child welfare, and quality pre-K in Georgia and around the country. 

This column from New York Time’s columnist Bob Herbert quotes Dr. Irwin Redlener, a pediatrician who is president of the Children’s Health Fund in New York and a professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

Dr. Redlener says:

“We’re looking at all these cuts in human services — in health care, in education, in after-school programs, in juvenile justice. This all points to a very grim future for these children who seem to be taking the brunt of this financial crisis.”

In Georgia, advocates, including Voices for Georgia’s Children, have joined together to call for a more balanced approach to the budget crisis so that Georgia can address the current crisis while also ensuring that our children and our state are well positioned in the future. This crisis cannot be addressed by cuts alone.  The governor and state legislators have already cut essential programs deeply, threatening our state’s progress.  Now, leaders must consider revenue measures.

Raise your voice with us on Tuesday to ensure that revenue options should not be off the table.

Mindy Binderman

Director of Government Affairs and Advocacy

www.georgiavoices.org

Voices for Georgia’s Children was showcased in the Savannah Morning News recently.  The article quotes Executive Director Pat Willis, Government Affairs & Advocacy Director Mindy Binderman and incoming boardmember Becky Cheatham.

Becky is the Executive Director of the St. Joseph’s/Candler Hospital Foundation based in Savannah.  She was also named a 2009 Big Voice for Children Award honoree.  Becky is working to develop new partnerships between Voices and the Junior League of Savannah, just one of dozens of communities around the state where Voices has contacts and coalition partners.

Voices is always working with media outlets all over Georgia to showcase new partners and innovative programs.  If you know an individual, an agency or an organization that you think deserves some media attention, let us know!  As advocates, we want to help you get your story told to the widest audience possible.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Edward McNally-Voices for Georgia’s Children

I’ve never hesitated to steal good ideas from other advocates.

Take blogging for instance.

Lots of advocates suffer from some form of bloggaphobia; a not always rational Fear of Blogging.  Either they’re afraid of comments by strangers, or how their fellow colleagues will react to their opinions or their writing ability, or just afraid to dip their toe in and post anything at all.

This isn’t true for the staff at Advocates for Youth based in Washington, DC. Established in 1980 as the Center for Population Options, Advocates for Youth champions efforts to help young people make informed and responsible decisions about their reproductive and sexual health.

Advocates for Youth boasts not one, not two, but five separate blogs, all of which are updated regularly.

http://www.advocatesforyouth.org

I prefer blogs with multiple links or embedded video.  Here at Voices, we are looking for videos that tell stories about children in need and how children benefit when advocates are successful on their behalf.  If you know of sources for these stories, please send them our way.

In the meantime, here’s a great source for blogging tips to get you started: Blog Tips, Blogging for Nonprofits

http://www.blogtips.org/

And an easy-to-follow Top 10 Tips

http://www.rss-specifications.com/10-tips-for-bloggers.htm

Hope to get a link to your next post soon.

Edward McNally

Voices for Georgia’s Children

Welcome back to Voices’ Blog for Georgia’s Children

Over the next weeks and months, look for new (and much briefer!) posts every week from Voices staff and colleagues full of opinion, ideas, best practices, video, photos, tips, advocacy opportunities and links to the latest information about how kids are faring in Georgia and what people across the state are doing to make their lives better.

Beginning today, the staff of Voices for Georgia’s Children will be blogging on a regular basis each week.  We are anxious to generate conversations and to hear your perspectives.  Through this blog and other online tools, we’ll be continuing to expand our network of dedicate advocates working on behalf of children across the state.

Over the next four months, Mindy Binderman, Advocacy Director, will focus largely onlegislative developments under the Gold Dome.  These are the same fact-filled Daily Updates you’ve come to rely on from Voices over the past few years whenever the legislature is in session.  Mindy will also be blogging on a wide range of topics, including advocacy opportunities for professionals as well as parents and other citizens who want to do something to make a difference for kids.

Beth Locker, Policy Director, will be sharing insights and information about issues and best practices related to a wide range of policy areas related to children.

Joann Yoon, our Associate Policy Director for Child Health, will be your source for the latest on national healthcare reform and how it could impact Georgia’s kids and families, among many other health-related topics and Georgia’s own policy environment.

When it comes to young people and families involved with the juvenile court system, Julia Neighbors, Program Director for JUSTGeorgia, will be our eyes and ears.  She, along with Mindy, will be keeping close watch on the progress of SB 292, the Child Protection and Public Safety Act.

Of course, you’ll also be hearing from Pat Willis, our Executive Director.  She’ll be asking tough questions about the status of kids in Georgia and what leaders and voters can and should be doing so that children and young people across our state are healthier, safer, better educated, more connected to their community and ready to find jobs and achieve their full potential.

As Director of Public Policy and Communications, I’ll be talking about how people are talking about kids.  Or rather, how stakeholders and others doing this work are connecting and sharing their ideas and concerns: online, in person, in the media, at conferences and in other public settings.  I’ll be sharing communications and social networking tips for advocates and looking for tips and suggestions from you.

I’ll also be introducing guest bloggers to this space from a variety of communities, including business leaders, small business owners, faith leaders, educators, parents, entrepreneurs, artists, environmentalists, and, perhaps most importantly, kids and young people.

Of course, if you’re reading this, then you’re always invited to make your voice heard by making a comment on anything you see here.  We want to hear from you!  What do you think?  What are your concerns?  What are your suggestions?  How can we do what we do better and more effectively?

Our new conversation starts today.

Thanks for being part of it!

Edward

I am totally mindful that I have only one shot to make a first impression as a new blogger.  Excuse me if I’m a little nervous.  I know I can master the technology.  But this needs something more.  A blog needs your heart and your soul, not just your technical know how.  I’ve made the commitment.

As the Executive Director of Voices for Georgia’s Children I am just one of the Voices staff that will engage you on this blog.  We have an extraordinary group that brings deep knowledge of how children in Georgia are faring, of who does what to deliver services to kids, and how to make sure your voice is heard as an advocate.  I see my own role both in the organization and on our blog as the one who asks “Why?”  Why do children need advocates?  Why should you step out of your comfort zone?  Why will decision makers be persuaded by our arguments?  Why might our position not resonate with certain stakeholders?

Today I want to pose the question “Why must you speak up for children?”  Obviously they don’t vote and are not in the halls of power to speak for themselves.  More importantly, without you, children’s interests cannot compete with the many other issues that are so much better funded.  I believe in our state’s need for transportation, real estate development, utilities, and business.  But these interests have resources at their command that we can only dream of:  legions of corporate experts, armies of industry employees, and decades of political relationships.

Legislation is one way to make change for kids and your contact with those who represent you is a powerful way to advocate.  Many legislators tell us that 10-15 personal contacts on an issue will make them pay attention.   Children may not have money for PACs and entertainment and publicity campaigns, but collectively we, adults who care about kids, have a voice and have the power to vote.   These resources will help children’s interests to compete.

Voices is ready to keep you informed, to alert you to advocacy opportunities, and to share the results.  Children need your voice.  Please join us.

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