Category Archives: Health

Collins’ Bill Included in Bicameral Opioid Relief Package

WASHINGTON—Legislation introduced by Reps. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) in the House and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) in the Senate has been included in the final text (Title VIII, Subtitle K) of the bipartisan, bicameral agreement designed to combat the opioid crisis. As part of the comprehensive package, the provisions from the Substance Abuse Prevention Act would bring a spectrum of practical solutions to bear on the opioid epidemic.

“Families in Northeast Georgia and across the nation have suffered deeply under the opioid crisis, and the House continues to respond thoughtfully and thoroughly. We know, for example, that drug courts help people beat addiction and the Drug-Free Communities Program helps prevent it, and the inclusion of the Substance Abuse and Treatment Act in this agreement will ensure communities have access to both of these solutions and others like them,” said Collins.

“I’m thankful for the partnership of Sen. Cornyn and Rep. Deutch as we keep our promise to bring relief to victims of opioid abuse and increase support for the law enforcement officers manning the front lines. I look forward to swift action that will land this package on President Trump’s desk.”

“I’m thankful for the leadership of Congressman Collins and Senators Cornyn and Feinstein in the effort to reauthorize important initiatives across the federal government—including drug court program—that not only help people address their mental health and addiction needs, but also work to prevent substance abuse before it starts. Our community should be proud of Broward County’s drug courts, which are the third-oldest in the nation and have served as an example to other communities of how the justice system can focus on recovery from addiction and saving lives, rather than just locking people up. I’m pleased that the Substance Abuse Prevention Act was included in the final comprehensive opioid legislation and I am committed to continuing to fight for everyone struggling with addiction to get the help they need,” said Deutch.

Overview of Substance Abuse Prevention Act as included in H.R. 6:

Office of National Drug Control Policy—Reauthorizes the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) at the White House, which oversees all Executive Branch efforts on narcotics control, including the development of a national drug control strategy, while ensuring that these efforts strengthen and complement state and local anti-drug activities.

Drug-Free Communities Program—Reauthorizes the Drug-Free Communities Program, one of our nation’s most important programs for preventing youth substance abuse and reducing demand for illicit narcotics at the community level.

Drug Courts—Reauthorizes Department of Justice funding for drug courts, which are on the front lines of preventing drug addiction through targeted interventions for individuals with drug addiction and substance abuse disorders. This legislation would also allow non-profit organizations to provide important training and technical assistance to drug courts.

High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Forces—Reauthorizes the ONDCP High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Program, which provides funding for federal, state and local law enforcement task forces operating in our nation’s most critical drug trafficking regions. This legislation would also improve the program by targeting funds for implementation of a coordinated drug overdose response strategy, including coordination with public health officials and other multi-disciplinary efforts to reduce demand for narcotics and prevent drug abuse. It also provides supplemental grants to law enforcement agencies to protect law enforcement from accidental exposure to dangerous narcotics.

Public Awareness—Allows the ONDCP Director to participate in and expand opioid and heroin awareness campaigns authorized under the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act.
Protecting Families with Substance Abuse Challenges—Improves collaboration and provides resources to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to help families stay together while battling substance abuse—including through screening, treatment, supportive housing and other interventions.

Better Substance Abuse Treatment—Directs the Government Accountability Office and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to report on improving substance abuse disorder treatment reimbursement to attract a more talented workforce. The bill also encourages better Medicaid substance abuse disorder reimbursement.

Educating Prescribers—Requires Attorney General and HHS Secretary to complete a plan for educating and training medical practitioners in best practices for prescribing controlled substances.

The Substance Abuse Prevention Act has support from the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, the Addiction Policy Forum, the National District Attorneys Association, the National Association for Children of Addiction, the National Association of Police Organizations, the Moyer Foundation, the National Council for Behavioral Health, the Fraternal Order of Police, the National HIDTA Directors Association, the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, the National Criminal Justice Association and the National Association of Drug Court Professionals.

Deal appoints Division of Family and Children Services Interim Director

Gov. Nathan Deal today appointed Office of the Child Advocate (OCA) Director Tom Rawlings to be the interim director of the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS). Rawlings’ appointment follows the departure of DFCS Director Virginia Pryor. Deal also appointed OCA Deputy Director Rachel Davidson to serve as Interim OCA Director. Both appointments are effective Aug. 1.

 “Every child deserves a safe, loving and supportive environment in which to grow and learn,” said Deal. “DFCS and OCA are instrumental in our efforts to protect and care for Georgia’s youngest and most vulnerable citizens, while providing all children with greater opportunities to succeed. Throughout his extensive career in juvenile justice and child advocacy, Tom Rawlings has demonstrated a profound commitment to ensuring the health and wellbeing of young people across our state. I am confident he will serve Georgia well and that Rachel Davidson will build upon our initiatives at OCA. I am grateful for Director Pryor’s leadership and wish her the best in her next endeavor.”

Tom C. Rawlings – Interim Director, Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS)

Rawlings is the director of the Office of the Child Advocate. He was the first full-time juvenile court judge in the Middle Judicial Circuit and oversaw juvenile justice and child protection cases in five counties. Rawlings was the country director for International Justice Mission in Guatemala, where he directed a child sexual abuse prosecution and treatment team. He is certified as a child welfare law specialist by the National Association of Counsel for Children and a former Fulbright Senior Specialist in law. Rawlings is the author of “Georgia Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice: Policy, Practice and Procedure.” He earned a bachelor’s degree from Duke University, a law degree from the University of Georgia School of Law and a master’s degree with distinction in International Human Rights Law from the University of Oxford. Rawlings and his wife, Kay, have three children and reside in Sandersville.

Rachel H. Davidson – Interim Director, Office of the Child Advocate (OCA)

Davidson is the deputy director of the Office of the Child Advocate (OCA). She has more than a decade of experience as a child welfare attorney and was previously a policy analyst for OCA. Davidson has represented children in dependency cases with the DeKalb County Child Advocacy Center and served as a fellow for the Cold Case Project administered by the Supreme Court of Georgia’s Committee on Justice for Children. She also served as a juvenile court liaison for the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services and as the unit manager of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children. Davidson earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Florida and a master’s degree in Business Administration and a law degree from Stetson University. She and her husband, Patrick, have two children and live in Dunwoody.

Georgia Child Fatality Review Panel Aims to Reduce Youth Suicide Through Awareness

Decatur, GA – In 2018, the GBI’s Child Fatality Review Unit has received 23 cases of suicide related deaths of children under the age of 18.  For every young person who dies by suicide, national statistics indicate 25 others will have attempted to take their own lives.  There have been more than 1,000 suicide related admissions of children to Georgia hospitals in the past year.  Several agencies in Georgia have come together to produce a series of public service announcements (PSA), the first of which was aimed at children helping children.

Today, the release of the second features adults who share their experiences with their loved ones who have considered or attempted suicide. These are parents, siblings, and experts who have seen this crisis firsthand and want to raise awareness for others to continuously seek help for children in crisis.  Parents and  teachers are in a key position to pick up on these signs and get help

The PSAs are a continuation by the Georgia Child Fatality Review (GCFR) Panel to raise awareness of youth suicide.  Joining GCFR in this prevention effort are Voices for Georgia’s Children, the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD), Georgia Department of Education, Georgia Department of Human Services’ Division of Family and Children Services, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

Individuals who exhibit signs of suicide, or identify signs of suicide in others, can call the Georgia Crisis and Access Line at 1-800-715-4225, 24/7.  All calls are free and confidential.  Alternatively, please visit for assistance.  GCAL is provided statewide by DBHDD.

The mission of CFR is to serve Georgia’s children by promoting more accurate identification and reporting of child fatalities, evaluating the prevalence and circumstances of both child abuse cases and child fatality investigations, and monitoring the implementation and impact of the statewide child injury prevention plan to prevent and reduce incidents of child abuse and fatalities in the state.