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In State Fiscal Year 2020 (SFY 2020), the Department of Human Services (DHS) rallied staff to step up to serve Georgians who, in the wake of a global pandemic, needed our services and programs more than ever before. We were motivated by our core values to provide access to resources of support and empowerment and to deliver services with dignity and respect for Georgia’s most vulnerable.
In the last year, DHS accomplished great successes that furthered our vision of building stronger families for a stronger Georgia. Our Division of Aging Services’ Dementia Friends program, which educates Georgians on ways to support members of their community living with dementia, increased the number of Dementia Friends in Georgia by 1,056 people. Our Division of Child Support Services increased the number of parents in its Parental Accountability Court (PAC) program, which helps noncustodial parents who are facing contempt actions in court for nonpayment of child support, address the issues that have kept them from paying their support orders. In SFY 2020, PAC participants paid $1.6 million to support their children, who were previously not receiving any financial support – a $500,000 increase over SFY 2019. And our Division of Family & Children Services implemented strategies that reduced the population of children in foster care by more than 8.5%, decreasing from 13,053 to 11,919, and that resulted in 1,421 finalized adoptions.
I am so proud of the work DHS does every day, and I am especially proud of the exceptional work that the agency has done in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Our team has been a source of encouragement and inspiration in the face of great difficulty. Aging Services has re-tooled how seniors in Georgia access nutrition services by transitioning 8,091 older adults in April 2020, who were receiving meals in senior centers and other group settings before the start of the pandemic, to receive home-delivered meals during the pandemic to avoid large gatherings. Child Support has responded by making nearly all of its functions available to customers remotely. Ninety-five percent of child support inquiries are now handled virtually. DFCS simplified food stamp eligibility determinations to make the application process easier for new applicants and has expanded food stamp benefits to max out benefit allotments for those who were not already receiving their full benefit amount.
The details in this report showcase the Department of Human Services’ continued commitment to the residents of Georgia, and I am proud to present this information to the public and to our legislators, stakeholders and partners. The successes of our Division of Aging Services, Division of Child Support Services and Division of Family & Children Services in SFY 2020 demonstrate our capacity for adaptability, compassion and dedication.
I am honored to serve the people of Georgia under Gov. Brian P. Kemp’s leadership. We have accomplished so much in a year that presented many obstacles, but I know there is a great future ahead for human services in our great state and across the nation.