Georgia Public Policy Foundation
Changing Georgia Policy, Changing Georgians' Lives
Since 1991
New Poll Finds Georgians’ Support for School Choice Has No Political Boundaries

A large majority of Georgians support school choice, and nearly all of those support choice for all Georgia students regardless of family income.

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How Does Georgia Fare in New Criminal Justice Reports?

Two Pew Charitable Trust reports examine how Georgia compares to other states in inmate health care spending and inmate releases without supervision. By Foundation Editor Mike Klein.

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Should Georgia Slow Down Foster Care Pilot Project?

Georgia’s foster care pilot projects seems to be fast-tracked, but would a slower approach work better? By Foundation Editor Mike Klein

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After SHEP … Georgia Looks Toward a New Savannah River Terminal

Georgia already has its sights set on the next strategy after completion of the Savannah River Harbor Project. By Foundation Editor Mike Klein.

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More Families Benefiting from Innovative Education Policy

Florida becomes the second state to implement education savings accounts.

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New Detail About Georgia Foster Care Privatization Pilot Project

Georgia has published its foster care privatization pilot project request for proposals. By Foundation Editor Mike Klein

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“What We’ve Got Here is Failure to Communicate”

Astonishingly, thirteen states do not track and report out their juvenile justice recidivism rates, says the Pew Charitable Trusts. Pew says Georgia is one of the best at data reporting. By Foundation Editor Mike Klein

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Feds Authorize New Georgia Juvenile Justice Reform Dollars

Georgia, Hawaii and Kentucky are the only three states selected by federal officials to receive a special round of juvenile justice reform implementation grants. By Foundation Editor Mike Klein.

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Jeffrey Dorfman: Ten Economic Truths Liberals Need to Learn

Today’s political climate is highly partisan. Debates are full of personal attacks, harsh words and complete disagreements. With that in mind, here are ten economic facts that liberals need to learn. By University of Georgia applied economics professor Jeffrey Dorfman.

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Crystal Williams: Foster Care Youth (Like Herself) Need Connections

By Mike Klein

MIKE KLEIN Editor, Georgia Public Policy Foundation

Editor, Georgia Public Policy Foundation

Crystal Williams did not have a regular kid life. She had no father at home. Her baby brother died from sudden infant death syndrome. A grandmother and other relatives helped to raise Crystal and two sisters. Her mother moved the family from Memphis to Atlanta when Crystal was nine, then into and through a series of homeless shelters. By age ten she was in Georgia foster care. No, Crystal Williams did not have a regular kid life. Nearly two decades later she has emerged as a forceful voice for foster care youth.

“Young people need permanent connections,” Williams said when she addressed the Georgia Child Welfare Reform Council last week in a meeting at Emory University Law School. “I can’t begin to describe how detrimental it is to age out of foster care or just be an adult period without people to connect to. Your car breaks down on the side of the road, you don’t know how to change a tire and you realize, I have no one to call; (that) is extremely detrimental.”

Williams is also a Child Welfare Reform Council member, appointed by Governor Nathan Deal specifically because she can speak eloquently and forcefully about what foster youth experience because she was one. “I hear stories like that all the time of young people who come to a place and they realize, wow, I have no one at this moment. My biggest thing is a person should never feel like that. No young person should ever feel like that in any situation.”



Williams spoke to the Council for nearly an hour; the video excerpt below is from the Georgia Public Policy Foundation YouTube channel. The Child Welfare Reform Council website videos section will upload her complete testimony and also segments from others who spoke Thursday.

Williams is a co-founder of EmpowerMEnt, an organization to assist foster youth. Last fall she appeared before a state Senate committee that heard testimony about a proposal to expand the role of private foster care providers. She has written one book, “Stronger, An Inspirational Journey,” and she focuses continuously on how to help foster youth.

“One thing I get a lot is, hey, you were in foster care, get over it,” Williams said. “I totally get that everybody had something difficult happen in their past, everybody had that moment where it was just hard and tough, but I do want to address we are discussing young people who have experienced complex trauma and it’s extremely real for these young people who have been through foster care and it’s going to look extremely different for every young person.”

The mission of the Child Welfare Reform Council is to consider every aspect of children services, including foster care, resources needed by investigators and courts, ideas to address a shortage of foster care homes, and especially, how to continue to assist children who age out of foster care and, theoretically, should be able to make it in the outside world.

“I maintain my connection with my adopted family. They are phenomenal people,” Williams said. “They actually adopted me as an adult. I heard a young person recently say, I’m 17 years old, nobody’s going to adopt me, nobody’s going to want me in their family. It hurts my heart because even if it’s not adoption, young people need permanent connections.”

Click here or click the video to watch this excerpt.

Additional Resources:

Crystal Williams Biography

Georgia Child Welfare Reform Council Website

Crystal Williams Senate Testimony on Foster Care

DFCS Leader: “If You’re Part of the Problem, Your Days Are Done”

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