Family First Prevention Services Act Leadership Advisory Council


The purpose of the Leadership Advisory Council is to make recommendations to the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services and engage child welfare system stakeholder groups to guide the planning and implementation efforts necessary for the successful fulfillment of the requirements of the Family First Prevention Services Act (Family First).

The Division has identified critical decisions and milestones required by Family First and the Council will:

  1. Make recommendations in relation to these critical decisions; and

  2. Identify implementation considerations for the Division and Child Welfare system as a whole.


The Family First Leadership Advisory Council with meet at least Quarterly through October 2021.


The Council is comprised of voting members identified in the charter representing constituent parts of the child welfare system, including child and family serving state agencies, juvenile courts, private child serving agencies, advocacy groups, parents, caregivers and youth who have experienced foster care. Non-voting resource members and subject matter experts may join the council as needed to support and assist the council in accomplishing its charge.


Council Members agree to:

  1. Develop a thorough understanding of the requirements of Family First.

  2. Regularly attend Council meetings.

  3. Represent the member’s agency and/or constituent group.

  4. Share the perspective of the entity or constituent group they are representing and not their personal perspective.

  5. Report the work of the Council to their respective entity stakeholders and peers.

  6. Share feedback received from stakeholders and peers with the Council.

  7. Identify subcommittees needed to help prioritize the work to be completed around specific elements of Family First.

  8. Participate on subcommittees and facilitate expanded participation of peers as needed to accomplish the work of the Council.


  • DFCS Deputy Director for Child Welfare - Mary Havick (Council Chair)

  • Office of the Child Advocate - Rachel Davidson

  • Supreme Court of Georgia Committee on Justice for Children - Jerry Bruce

  • Department of Community Health - Catherine Ivy

  • Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities - Dante McKay

  • Department of Public Health - Jeannine Galloway

  • Department of Education - Cheryl Benefield

  • Department of Early Care and Learning - Donna Johnson

  • Department of Juvenile Justice - Shyniece Howard

  • Department of Human Services Residential Child Care Licensing - Carol Winstead

  • Council of Juvenile Court Judges - Eric John, Hon. Lisa Jones, Hon. Render Heard

  • Georgia Court Appointed Special Advocates - Jen King

  • Georgia Family Connection Partnership - Gaye Smith

  • Prevent Child Abuse Georgia - Julia Neighbors

  • Faith Based Organization Representative - Lesli Reece

  • Chair of Together Georgia Board - Alison Evans

  • Chair of Together Georgia CCI Chapter - Sheri Cody

  • Chair of Together Georgia CPA Chapter - Brian Russell

  • Chairs of Together Georgia Mental Health/Family Preservation Chapter - Nikki Raymond, Hugo Mullins

  • Chair of Georgia Alliance of Therapeutic Services - Emily Acker

  • Carter Center Mental Health - Lei Ellingson, Helen Robinson

  • Program Voices for Georgia’s Children - Erica Fener Sitkoff

  • Foundation/Philanthropy Representative - Katrina Mitchell

  • Youth Representation- EmpowerMEnt Policy Council

  • Parent Advisory Council Representative - Elena Evans

  • Kinship Caregiver - Mike Patton

  • Foster Parent- Paul Blough


Family First Prevention Services Act Leadership Advisory Council Meetings

Family First Prevention Services Act Leadership Advisory Council Meetings