In a ceremony on June 11, 2021, the Supreme Court of Georgia’s Committee on Justice for Children awarded two recipients with the fifth annual Chief Justice P. Harris Hines Awards for Outstanding Advocacy for Children in dependency proceedings.
Each year the Committee honors one Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) case manager and one attorney for their exemplary work in the child welfare system. This year’s winners are Ms. Christie M. Williams, who serves as a case manager for Chattooga County DFCS, and Mr. Rick Jones, who practices in the Blue Ridge Circuit.
Ms. Christie M. Williams has served Georgia’s youth as a front-line worker for over 25 years in Chattooga County. She was selected for the compassion she demonstrates to the families she serves and for the partnership she provides to coworkers. Ms. Williams is known as a natural leader who goes out of her way to tailor case plans to each family’s specific needs. Her servant’s heart is also displayed in her mentorship of other case managers.
Mr. Rick Jones has worked in the Blue Ridge Circuit for over 20 years. Throughout those years, Mr. Jones has become well known for his zealous advocacy of every child he represents. He carefully explains the litigation process to them and is a constant resource to the court as he paints a full picture of the family’s life. Mr. Jones is also a resource to his colleagues and other advocates as he selflessly devotes time and energy to training new SAAGs based on his experience.
The Chief Justice P. Harris Hines Awards were created in 2017 by the Georgia Supreme Court’s Committee on Justice for Children in partnership with Georgia’s Office of the Child Advocate and the Georgia Bar’s Child Protection and Advocacy Section. Chief Justice Hines served as Chair of the Justice for Children Committee for 16 years and was a leading supporter of the child welfare system and juvenile court improvement. His work and commitment are honored by giving an annual award in his name to a child welfare case manager and a child welfare attorney who exemplify efforts to improve outcomes for children in foster care and other children and families involved in the child welfare system.
Presiding Justice David E. Nahmias, who chairs the Justice for Children Committee, closed the award ceremony with a call to recognize Georgia’s many outstanding advocates across the state, “When it comes to the children in our state’s child welfare system, we all need to do more, and do it sooner, and do it smarter. I hope all of us, those who work in this area, and those who don’t, will use your leadership positions in your communities to improve justice for Georgia’s children. It is great to recognize these two outstanding advocates, but there are thousands of people working in our child welfare system who deserve recognition and appreciation. I hope you will look for opportunities to recognize their hard work as you work in your local communities.”