Before 1990, the complex challenges confronting families along with proposed solutions and data all seemed unrelated; meager resources weren’t being leveraged; and local communities were never asked to contribute their perspectives. Georgia’s system for families, children and communities was fragmented.
The wake-up call came in 1990 when the first KIDS COUNT Data Book, published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, ranked Georgia 48th in the nation in child well-being. Appalled by the dismal report, Gov. Zell Miller called for an immediate common-sense solution. Gov. Miller responded by establishing a two-year pilot in 15 communities to coordinate services for the educational, social, economic and physical well-being of Georgia’s youngest and most vulnerable citizens. This initiative was called Georgia Family Connection.
In 1993 the state legislature recognized the success of this approach and began supporting additional counties connecting to this network. In 1999, Jones County PLAN (People Looking Ahead Now), through the Education Committee, applied for and received a Family Connection planning grant to form a Collaborative. Their goal was to prioritize and address locally concerns regarding children and families.
Because of the measured success, by 2002 all 159 counties in Georgia were part of the Georgia Family Connection network.