2022 Kid’s Count Data Book

STATE TRENDS IN CHILD WELL-BEING by the Annie B. Casey Foundation

Excerpts from the new report and link to the downloadable book below.

We’ve all been through a lot since COVID-19 emerged two and a half years ago. Schools went virtual. So did many jobs, while others vanished, and the economy convulsed. We isolated ourselves and our families. The health care system buckled, even as doctors, nurses, researchers and others strove tirelessly
to save lives. By July 2022, over 1 million people in America had died from the novel coronavirus, including more than 1,600 children.

Over 200,000 kids in the United States lost a parent or primary caregiver during that same period. In short, the coronavirus upended everyday life to an extent not seen since World War II. It is no surprise that millions of parents, caregivers, and other adults are feeling overwhelmed. So are children, who face what the U.S. surgeon general has called a “mental health pandemic” for youth.

DOWNLOAD the 2020 Kid’s Count Data Book HERE

Food Give-away, Back to School and MORE

The IMPACT Trailer will be hitting the streets Wednesday July 13th in Jesup, GA! Are you or someone you know in need of hygiene items, cleaning supplies, or paper products?  

Send them by the Wayne County Farmers Market July 13th from 10 AM- NOON.  Items may vary and are limited.

Sunday, July 31st :

Turning Point is excited to announce we have partnered with Wayne Housing Partners for our 2022 Back to School Bash!  The day will be filled with  FREE school supplies with backpack, food, snow cones, cotton candy, haircuts, nail painting for the ladies and so much more. Join us Sunday, July 31st at 10:30 AM as we kick off the new  school year with a bang. Service will consist of a special prayer service for all faculty, staff, students and more! All Activites will begin after service. Students must be registered to help us prepare!

Student Registration:
Volunteer Registration:

Wednesday, August 3rd
Free food giveaway! Meats, sides and more.  The food giveaway will be at Turning Point from 11 AM- 1 PM. Everyone is welcome.  Also, we are looking for folks to serve   The graphic below tells you how to sign up 

Evidence-Based Home Visiting Program

Infographic containing information and data on the Evidence-Based Home Visiting Program

Georgia’s Evidence-Based Home Visiting (EBHV) Program, under the Georgia Department of Public Health,
provides new parents the supports they may need when having a baby. EBHV gives at-risk pregnant women,
new moms, and families with children 0-5 years old the skills they need to raise healthy children.1 The overall
goals of home visiting programs are to:

• increase healthy pregnancies,
• improve parenting skills,
• improve child health and development,
• strengthen family connectedness to community support, and reduce child abuse and neglect.

*Information above is quoted from the image from georgiavoices.org

Check & Connect

By Iman Johnson

Check and Connect is a comprehensive intervention designed to improve student engagement at school and with learning for marginalized, disengaged students in grades K-12, through relationship building, problem solving and capacity building, and persistence.  Although it was designed for grades K-12, it is currently only being implemented in the Wayne County School System for grades 6-12.

            It has four main components:  A Mentor, who works with students and families for a minimum of two years.  Check, this includes weekly checks, utilizing data schools already collect on student’s school adjustment, behavior and academic progress.  Connect, includes timely interventions, driven by data, to establish and maintain students’ connection to school and learning, and to enhance students’ social and academic competencies; and Engagement with families, where mentors engage with parents and strive to foster their active participation in their child’s education.

            Check and Connect is derived from evidence-based research and is the only intervention found to have strong evidence of positive effects for staying in school.  Some of these demonstrated outcomes include: Increase in students’ attendance, persistence in school, credit accrual and school completion rates.  Also, a decrease in students’ truancy (skipping), tardies, behavior referrals and dropout rates. 

            Our school system has experienced these positive outcomes since the implementation of the program during the 2017-2018 school year.  We are always recruiting, and need more mentors to participate in this worthwhile program, in order to be able to continue to foster success among the children in Wayne County.  If you would like to become a Check and Connect mentor or desire more information about the program, please contact Iman Johnson at iman.johnson@wayne.k12.ga.us or 912.441.1174 or Kimberly Harrison at KHarrison@wayne.k12.ga.us or 912.427.1000 ext. 390.davis

Youth Transition Camp Offered During April Break in Wayne County

Life Logo

LIFE, Inc is pleased to be offering a four session skill building and transition camp to eligible Juniors and Seniors from Wayne County High School during April vacation. To participate, students must currently be in either 11th or 12th Grade at WCHS and have a disability.  Sessions will run Mon 4/18, Tue 4/19, Wed 4/20 and Friday 4/22 from 9:30 – 12:03 pm. The Monday through Wednesday sessions will be held at our Jesup office, 990 N Macon St (in the rear of the Goodwill Building). Our Friday location will be held at an alternate location (to be determined). Topics of our lessons/discussions will include Job Search Skills, Interviewing & Dressing for Success, Resume Writing, Introduction to Banking and Budgeting, and What to Expect After Graduation.  We will be featuring speakers and presenters from various businesses and organizations within the community.  Our Friday session will include lunch and some fun activities to celebrate our week of enrichment. 

To properly plan, we need to know how many students would be interested in participating.  Attendance is limited to 12 participants and seats will be filled on a first come, first serve basis. There is no cost to attend the camp.   Participants will be required to provide their own transportation  If you know of a student that would like to attend, or you would like additional information, please contact Andrea Daigle, Independent Living Coordinator at LIFE, Inc either by email at: adaigle@lifecil.com or phone at (912) 570-5431.  Also, we will be seeking in kind donations of food and refreshments to serve at our final session.  We look forward to a fun week with the students and appreciate the community’s support and enthusiasm as we continue our mission to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities in Wayne County.

Collaborative Unites to Provide Bike for CPTC Student

Submitted by Kate Nichols

When a person displays immense tenacity, resilience, and perseverance in the face of a challenge, it is impossible for such traits to go unnoticed. Michael Deegan, Adult Education Instructor at Coastal Pines Technical College (CPTC), observed just this kind of determination in one of his students in the GED program who, lacking any other form of transportation, walks over three miles each way to attend her classes.

“She is a hardworking and driven mother that is determined to obtain her GED and matriculate into the college here at Coastal Pines, but she faces many obstacles,” explained Mr. Deegan.

He went on to say that, while the program offers a virtual option and provides use of a laptop at no cost, the student in unable to take advantage of this because she does not have internet access at home. Further, she cannot afford to utilize alternate transportation, such as Wayne County Transit. Instead, she treks an hour and fifteen minutes each way to attend class in person.

“As residents of Jesup, we all know how hot it gets in July and August, so six miles round trip is brutal, but she does her best to attend class as much as possible,” said Mr. Deegan, who started ensuring he had cold, bottled water on hand when the fatigued student arrived at school.

Recently, the student has been forced to leave her evening class early to avoid walking home in the dark, missing valuable instruction time. Mr. Deegan knew that there had to be a way to help the student get to class, and that’s when the idea of a bicycle came to him.

Guynell Grant, Career Services Specialist with the Adult Education Program at CPTC, presented the need for the bike at the monthly Wayne County Family Connection Collaborative meeting on September 27. Within 24 hours, the bicycle was procured.

Fair Haven, the local non-profit that provides shelter and support to women facing domestic violence, generously provided the bicycle. It was purchased from the Fair Haven Market, which is well-known for helping survivors of domestic violence obtain necessities for a fresh start.  However, the abundant generous donations from community members have made it possible for the Market to broaden its scope and commit to serving anyone in need—like this determined student.

Family Connection provided new innertubes for the bicycle’s tires, and Mr. Deegan repaired the tires over the weekend. Mr. Deegan presented the bike to the student when she attended class on Monday night. The bicycle will cut the student’s commute by more than half, allowing her to arrive on campus faster, stay in class longer, and get home to her children sooner.

“It was so inspiring the collaborative come together so quickly to collectively address this need and arrive at a solution, and is a wonderful example of the purpose of this organization. We wish the student the best in all of her educational pursuits,” said Lana Wright, Wayne County Family Connection Executive Director.

If you or your organization would like to join the Wayne County Family Connection collaborative and promote initiatives for a healthier, safer, stronger Wayne County, reach out to Wayne County Family Connection Executive Director, Lana Wright at 912-256-2150 or by email at familyconnection@waynehelp.com.

DFCS Update

Submitted by Kate Nichols

Like so many other brick and mortar businesses and organizations, the Wayne County Department of Family and Children Services closed the doors in March 2020 and began operating remotely for the safety of the staff and the community members they serve. They found creative solutions to the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and continued providing services through virtual channels.

While this allowed Wayne County DFCS to continue serving the community during the height of the pandemic, now that a sense of new normalcy is on the horizon, the staff is available to meet with clients in person. Appointments can be scheduled by calling the local office at 912-427-5866.

All services and operations are open for business and may be accessed through the following resources and application processes:

  • Call the local number at 912-427-5866 to request an in-person appointment or schedule virtual meetings. 
  • To report suspected child abuse or neglect Call DFCS Child Protective Services (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) at 1-855-GACHILD or 1-855-422-4453.
  • If you have questions about an existing child welfare case, call your case manager or their supervisor for support.
  • To apply for Food Stamps, Medical Assistance & TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), Go to dfcs.georgia.gov/services and download a paper application. Mail it to Wayne County Family & Children Services at 1220 South 1st Street, Jesup, GA 31545
  • To check on your Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT), go to www.connectebt.com/gaebtclient
  • ADA Reasonable Modification Information can be found at dhs.georgia.gov/notices
  • To request an Application or Renewal Form by phone, call 877-423-4746
  • Obtain a paper application of any of these forms at the Blue Information Box outside our DFCS office
  • Completed applications should be placed in the drop box or mailed to Wayne County DFCS, 1220 S. First Street, Jesup, GA 31545

More information about Wayne County DFCS and many other resources in our area can be found in the Resource Directory at waynehelp.com/resource-directory.

If you or your organization would like to join the Wayne County Family Connection collaborative and promote initiatives for a healthier, safer, stronger Wayne County, reach out to Wayne County Family Connection Executive Director, Lana Wright at 912-256-2150 or by email at familyconnection@waynehelp.com.

NOTICE download – English (updated 11/18/21)

NOTICE download – Spanish (updated 11/18/21)

Growing better together

By Rachel Autry

(Editor’s note: Rachel Autry is the advocacy and recruitment coordinator for Tri-County CASA.)

This month, April, is Child Abuse Prevention Month, a month dedicated to taking notice of—and working to change—a large problem in our communities.

Child abuse can be sexual, physical, emotional or mental, and in some cases, a victim will experience more than one kind of abuse. Child abuse often goes hand-in-hand with child neglect, and neither crime is limited to a “certain part” of the population.

It’s a problem that transcends racial boundaries—with Caucasian children slightly more likely to be victims than African-American, Hispanic and Asian-American children. Contrary to popular perception, children from middle-class families are more likely to be abused than their poor and extremely poor neighbors. Sadly, it is children 2 years of age and under who experience abuse the most of all age groups, and special-needs children are abused at a higher rate than non-special-needs children.

Abuse and its frequent partner, neglect, have life-long consequences for their victims. Child victims of abuse and neglect have a lower chance of graduating from high school, will have trouble getting or keeping a well-paying job, and often have trouble socially. These children are more likely to become victims of other crimes and to die from overdose of drugs or alcohol. They’re also more likely to suffer from heart disease, diabetes and cancer, tending to have more health problems in general throughout their lives.

But abuse can be prevented. Children grow in communities, and communities can play a large part in creating strong, resilient families and safe, happy children. Children in safe and loving homes are not only more resilient to adversity but are also able to recover from past traumas. When the community creates resources for those having trouble with finances, education, housing or health, it not only helps to lower the rate of child abuse but also helps victims excel in life. Those who become foster or adoptive parents or volunteer with organizations such as Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) programs also help child abuse victims.

Georgia has a hotline for supportive family resources at 1-800-CHILDREN (244-5373), as well as an interactive resource map on the Prevent Child Abuse Georgia website. You can learn more about our local CASA program at tri-countycasainc.org or on our  Facebook page at Tri-County CASA, Inc., GA. Georgia’s Child Abuse Reporting hotline is 1-855-422-4453.

All this month, let’s sow seeds of change so we can grow a better tomorrow together!

COVID-19 Crisis Has Exacerbated Lack of Access…


December 14, 2020

COVID-19 Crisis Has Exacerbated Lack of Access to Health Care and Housing Insecurity for Vulnerable Families and Children in Georgia

Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey results show how families in Georgia are coping during the coronavirus pandemic—data reveal food, income, and housing insecurity; mental health concerns; and a lack of access to health care

ATLANTA—Georgia has the highest percentage in the nation of families with children concerned about losing their housing in the next month due to income loss from the pandemic, according to Kids, Families, and COVID-19: Pandemic Pain Points and the Urgent Need to Respond, a report developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The report, released today, provides data on how families in all 50 states are faring during the COVID-19 crisis.

More than half of adults with children in Georgia—58%—reported that they’re concerned about eviction or foreclosure due to pandemic-related income loss, with half of Georgia’s adults with children reporting that they have lost income since the beginning of the pandemic. The report also reveals that Georgia has the second-highest rate of adults who have children in their households who lack health insurance, at 19%—compared to the national average of 12%. Access to health care is always critical, but especially so during the current health crisis.

The report is generated from data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, a weekly survey of Americans seeking to understand how families have been managing in the midst of the pandemic for the past nine months. The data show that families across Georgia and the nation are struggling on multiple fronts, with Georgians reporting high economic insecurity, which includes housing and food. For example, 16% of adults with children in Georgia reported that they sometimes or often did not have enough food to eat in the past week, exceeding the national average of 14%.

“The number of families going hungry in Georgia right now is unprecedented—higher than we have ever seen,” said Georgia Food Bank Association Executive Director Danah Craft. “Georgia’s food banks are responding to a 50% increase in demand that surged in March and continues today. Kids who are food insecure are more likely to have poor health overall, getting sicker more often and needing more care. Adults who don’t have the food they need are more likely to miss work and have a difficult time holding down a job, compounding the crisis. We’re the final backstop to keep families from falling into complete crisis, and additional support for children and families in Georgia is vital.”

The pandemic is disproportionately hurting families of color. Black or African American and Hispanic or Latino adults with children reported food insecurity at twice the rate of white Georgians, and were significantly more likely to be concerned that they would not be able to afford usual household expenses.

“Every child in the United States should have the basics, and families should have support to survive the considerable stress and pain of these times,” said Lisa Hamilton, president and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. “Our leaders can respond to the COVID-19 crisis by putting equity first, prioritizing children’s physical and mental health, helping families achieve financial stability, and strengthening schools so kids can thrive in spite of the extraordinary times.”

The data also show the mental health toll caused by the pandemic, with more than 30% of adults with children in Georgia reporting they’ve experienced anxiety in the past week, and more than 20% reporting feeling down, depressed, or hopeless in the past week.

“The pandemic has increased the rates of many determinants of mental health conditions, such as isolation, poverty, and lacking sense of security,” said Kim Jones, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Georgia chapter. “Due to this, the data show that mental health issues will be our next pandemic. In 2020, Georgia ranked 51st in access to mental health. We must do better as a state and make mental health a priority when addressing the health of Georgia’s children.”

One positive trend in Georgia is that, compared with several months ago, access to devices for digital learning for children has improved across race and ethnicity. In July, 76% of Black or African American students had access to devices for digital learning, but by September, that rate had risen to 95%. On average, Georgia’s device access increased from 80% in July to 94% in September, exceeding the national average of 93%.

Still, Georgia is either in line with national averages or worse than the national average for the majority of data points, indicating the urgent need for support for this state’s children and families. The data paint a clear picture that Georgia’s families need help across income, housing, health care, food, and several other key areas.

Overall, the data underline the desperate need for state and federal help to ensure that Georgians can make it through the pandemic, not only with their health, but without falling into poverty, starvation, and homelessness.

Given the level of need and struggle the data reveal in the report, here are recommendations for decisionmakers to consider on behalf of children and families as we move into 2021:

  • Use data disaggregated by race and ethnicity to inform decision-making. Understanding which communities have been hit hardest by the pandemic—along with sprawling side effects—will help determine where support is needed most.

  • Work with communities to craft local solutions to their urgent needs, and include their input about their own struggles and needs as decisions are made about how best to support Georgians during this critical time.

  • Prioritize both physical and mental health. Widely distributing a vaccine to all Georgians is critical, just as is supporting those struggling with anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges. In a school setting, ensuring an adequate counselor-to-student ratio could help alleviate mental health struggles in children.

  • The economic toll of the pandemic on children and families is severe. Georgia families need help with employment, housing, food security, physical and mental health care access, and other issues. Decisionmakers across sectors must provide strategies for economic relief that will keep people in their homes, keep food on the table, and allow people to get the care they need.

  • Schools have been asked to shoulder an enormous lift during the pandemic. Ensuring that schools have the funding and resources they need to support their communities amid ongoing uncertainty is paramount. Furthermore, schools located in communities that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic will need additional supports.

“We knew the pandemic would have dangerous and far-reaching effects on children and families,” said Gaye Smith, executive director of Georgia Family Connection Partnership, Georgia’s KIDS COUNT grantee. “Having these data help us better understand those effects so we can develop a response that will help our most vulnerable Georgians weather this storm in the moment, then position themselves to succeed in the new environment we’ll all find ourselves in on the other side of this crisis.”

Contact: Bill Valladares

November is National Home Care and Hospice Month

This month, we want to recognize the dedicated professionals who make a daily difference in the lives of the people they serve. These caregivers come in many roles from therapists and aids, administrators and nurses, CNAs and social workers. Their compassion and attention to detail improve the lives of every resident under their care. Their patience and time provide improved quality of life and peace of mind for family members. The month celebrates these qualities and so much more.

elderly woman looking at phone

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) is the largest and most-respected trade association representing the nation’s home care and hospice organizations. The NAHC President William A. Dombi states, “Home care and hospice nurses, therapists, aides, and other providers who choose to use their lives to serve our country’s aged, disabled, and dying. This noble work deserves our recognition and praise and we celebrate November as Home Care & Hospice Month for that very reason. 

Take time to thank those who provide home care and hospice care. Their dedicated service should not go unnoticed.

Home Care Services in Wayne County

Some places in Wayne County that provide home care services are:

  • Heartland Hospice Serving Southeast Georgia
  • CHSGA Home Health & Affinis Hospice
  • Hospice of South Georgia
  • GHC Hospice 
  • Community Home Care

A special thank you to all of our home town and hospice heroes. You all have worked in the most extraordinary circumstances during the COVID 19 pandemic and beyond.

Please consider liking our Facebook page and following us on social media to stay up to date with our community news and events. Also, if your organization would like to educate, inform or update Wayne County citizens on a topic or event you’ve been working on – reach out to us so you can be featured here in the Family Connection column of the Press-Sentinel and on our website!

Additionally, the Wayne County Family Connection Collaborative would like to invite anyone in our community to be a part of our group.  For more information, contact Lana Wright at 912-256-2150.  Our meetings are held on the 4th Monday of each month with the next meeting being this coming Monday at 9:30AM.

Source: NAHC.org