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Mary Perdue honors KidsNet
First lady says group is a care provider of choice for children

CONYERS - The Conyers-based KidsNet Georgia was recently recognized by Georgia first lady Mary Perdue as a care provider of choice for services to improve children's lives in the state.

Suzan Bryceland, director of KidsNet Georgia, said the recognition was an acknowledgement of the group's philosophy of care of being family focused and youth driven.

The recognition followed a presentation by KidsNet of its services to the first lady's cabinet last month.

KidsNet has six county offices and one regional office across Georgia and works to bring state and local agencies together on behalf of a child receiving public services. The "net" of services is designed to tailor assistance to the individual and not focus on decisions handed down from an agency.

Bryceland said an emphasis is placed on involving parents in developing a plan to help the child with the agencies involved. She explained the goal of KidsNet is to keep children in their communities and from going further into the state's system of care.

"What happens so often is that a child is with one agency and even though that child is with multiple agencies, that one agency would develop goals for this child in isolation, and not necessary include the parents, short of telling them 'This is what we're going to do,'" she said. "What a system of care is about is you get away from those silos of communications, you bring all agencies together and bring the parents in as a partner involved in the decision making."

The recognition was made through Perdue's Our Children Campaign, begun in 2003 to highlight community-based efforts - individuals, corporations, organizations, foundations and faith-based communities - and to increase the level of volunteerism on behalf of Georgia's children around the state, according to Michelle Parks, spokeswoman for the first lady's office.

KidsNet began in 1999 through a six-year federal grant to develop a system of care for children. The local KidsNet partnered with the Rockdale County government, the local office of the Department of Family and Children Services and the Rockdale County Juvenile Court.

Since then, KidsNet has expanded to Newton, Gwinnett, Fulton, Douglas, Chatham and a regional office serving six northwest Georgia counties.

Jay Jones can be reached at jay.jones@rockdalecitizen.com.