Georgia Family Connection Partnership helps local families

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In 1990 the state of Georgia was ranked No. 48 in the nation in terms of children’s well-being.

Now, 22 years later, the state has moved to No. 37 thanks in part to the work of the Georgia Family Connection Partnership. The statewide organization provides collaborative “tables” in each county that bring together local partners who can help better the lives of local children and families. Those tables include everyone from educational entities in a county to local government, law enforcement, faith based institutions, private companies and local nonprofits.

“There is a table in every county you can go to that’s working to achieve the same goal,” said Georgia Family Connection Partnership Director of Communications Bill Valladares. “Every single county’s table looks different, but they are all working on long-term strategies for their own challenged instead of implementing haphazard programs.”

He said the organization’s goals include improving the health of Georgia children, assisting in preparing all children to start school, making sure they are successful in school, ensuring that every family in the state is stable and self-sufficient and building strong communities in every county.

Recently the Walker County and Catoosa County collaborative tables began an initiative to address the problem of underage drinking in North Georgia, according to Catoosa County coordinator Phil Ledbetter.

“We’re still in the planning stages with that project, gathering data and trying to determine some of the areas of biggest problems,” he said.

Some of the biggest challenges in improving the overall well-being of children in North Georgia relate to getting students ready to start school and making sure they do well while they are there. Some of the biggest challenges for local students include drug abuse, underage drinking and teenage pregnancies, said Ledbetter.

Those challenges are typical across the state and Valladares said the Georgia Family Connection Partnership works to help individual counties address those issues in addition to other problems like low birth weight, school absenteeism, lack of quality child care, high unemployment, generational poverty and an undereducated and unskilled workforce.

“We just work to bring people together,” he said. “People tend to throw the word collaboration around a lot, but we work to get in there and offer assistance in that process and create a network across the state. This is the only network of its kind in the nation.”

For more information about Walker County’s collaborative table contact county coordinator Susan Wells at For more information about the Catoosa table contact county coordinator Phil Ledbetter at 706-935-5018 or For more information about the Georgia Family Connection Partnership visit

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