Georgia’s first lady, Sandra Deal, announced the launch of Great Start Georgia Jan. 7, a program developed to help meet the needs of expectant parents and those with young children.
“We want every mother to find out how to help her child grow up and develop properly. We want them to notice the milestones and be able to know when their child needs extra help,” said Deal.
The program, administered by the Governor’s Office for Children and Families and the Department of Public Health, is designed to create a community of support for all families before and after the birth of a child.
The effort will use approximately $6 million in state and federal funds to identify at-risk children and provide counseling to the families.
“The program will make available natural supports for all expectant families, children birth to 5, and their families, and link families with more intensive services when needed,” said Katie Jo Ballard, executive director of Great Start Georgia.
The program aims to connect expectant mothers, children and their families to a range of services including evidence-based home visiting, maternal and child health, child safety, school readiness, community and family safety, and family economic self-sufficiency.
Although the program is still in its infancy, state officials said the goal is to expand the program statewide and create a coordinated system for reaching out to new and expecting families.
Currently, seven counties have received federal funding from the Governor’s Office for Children and Families to embed evidence-based home visiting in their local Great Start Georgia systems. The seven counties are Clarke, Crisp, DeKalb, Glynn, Houston, Muscogee and Whitfield.
For more information about the program, visit www.greatstartgeorgia.org or call 1 (855) 707-8277.