VALDOSTA -- The Board of the Georgia Department of Human Resources will sponsor a transition hearing from 4-7 p.m. Monday in Valdosta State University's Regional Center for Continuing Education.

It is one of 18 hearings -- one or more in each of Georgia's 13 city /congressional districts -- scheduled during the months of November and December. The first was in Rome on Nov. 5. The final hearing is Tuesday in Winder.

The purpose of the hearing is to seek public input and ideas during the agency's change in leadership.

"We want to hear from the people served by the agency, and we want to tap the expertise of advocates statewide," said Board Chairman Bruce Cook. "The board and staff are committed to improving services and meeting citizens' needs, and this is a wonderful opportunity to have an open dialogue focused on ideas and solutions."

Jane Osborn with 211 of South Central Georgia said the "transition" in question involves a number of things, including the replacing of Jim Martin, former commissioner, and Gov. Sonny Perdue's continued cuts to programs and services. Perdue accepted Martin's resignation on Sept. 16. Specific program cuts Osborn is concerned about include teen pregnancy prevention clinics, services to persons with disabilities, and services for the elderly and low income people.

"It affects a lot of people here and the Health Department which is the only source of medical care for some folks like single men and women without children," she added. "(They have) to come up with a 2.5 percent this year and another 5 percent cut next year. Devastating cuts after cuts were made in the last two years already."

Osborn said families who depend on these services and others, whose health services will be affected, need to attend the hearing.

"If they ever will be sick with no source of health care, it matters," she continued. "If they ever need services from the Department of Family and Children Services for abused elderly person or child, it matters. If they are at risk for homelessness, they will be out of luck as services go away."

The Georgia Department of Human Resources is responsible for the delivery of health and social services. It is one of the largest agencies in the state and serves all Georgia citizens through regulatory inspection, direct service, and financial assistance programs.

The department has four divisions -- Aging Services, Public Health, Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Addictive Diseases, and Family and Children Services -- and three offices -- Office of Regulatory Services, Office of Adoptions, and Office of Child Support Enforcement.

It's vision for the future is Georgians living safe, healthy, and self-reliant lives.

Anyone wishing to speak at the hearing must sign up in advance, providing a name, the issue to be presented and recommended solutions. This can be done on the department's Web site at by clicking on the transitions hearings sign up link or by calling 404-463-6006. Speakers will be given up to five minutes.

Valdosta State University's Regional Center for Continuing Education is located at 903 N. Patterson St.

To contact reporter Jessica Pope, please call 244-3400, ext. 255.

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