As President of the Council of Juvenile Court Judges of Georgia, I want to take this opportunity to welcome you to our website and invite you to review the many areas that our courts address in regard to child welfare and the administration of the court system.
As Georgia is a diverse state, so is the juvenile court system. Our courts cover all regions: metro, suburban, and rural. There are full time, part time, and associate judges that may exercise jurisdiction over one county or multiple counties. Our courts exercise exclusive jurisdiction over delinquency, dependency, and child in need of services cases. The State of Georgia enacted a substantial rewrite of the Juvenile Code in 2014. The Council has served a vital role in the implementation of the many new changes in our state law.
Our courts and court staff continue to work in a collaborative manner with the many stakeholders of each community: the Department of Family and Children Services, the Department of Juvenile Justice, school districts, district attorneys’ offices, mental health providers, the medical community, bar associations, civic groups, law enforcement, county governments, etc.
Ongoing funding from the Governor’s office and the legislature through the Georgia Juvenile Reinvestment and Incentive Grants has allowed the juvenile courts to significantly reduce incarceration and implement intensive treatment programs for youth and their families. As part of the ongoing implementation of the new code, the Council continues to work closely with Governor Deal’s Council on Criminal Justice Reform. In that regard, the Council has been able to significantly decrease out of home placements, administer improved risk assessment tools, and implement evidence based treatment programs. The next step is the ongoing effort to develop an online juvenile data exchange. Access to statewide data will lead to ongoing system improvements.
Juvenile courts address the impact of societal problems on children and families: substance abuse, domestic violence, untreated mental health issues, trauma, temporary family crisis due to illness or an unstable home, neglect and abuse. Juvenile courts seek to protect the community by rehabilitating and holding juveniles accountable for their delinquent behavior. Juvenile Court Judges seek to prevent these issues as well. The law in this area is complex as it involves many constitutional rights and the sanctity of the family. Through the work of the Council of Juvenile Court Judges, by the Executive and standing committees, our dedicated Executive Director and outstanding staff, our local courts are better able to meet these many challenges. Thank you for your interest in the Juvenile Courts.
Honorable John Sumner
Cherokee County Juvenile Court
President, Council of Juvenile Court Judges of Georgia