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Pickens Family Partners braces for crippling budget cuts

Super Heroes Run & Obstacle Course fundraiser planned to help struggling non-profit


Click the above photo to be taken to the Pickens Family Partners website

     “Ninety percent of the parents we serve are either victims of child abuse or neglect,” said Pickens Family Partners Executive Director Margy Lohman, who will be slashing her staff and cutting services after state budget cuts come the first of the year.


    “These parents have poor childhood histories, substance abuse, lack of coping skills and education, and are very isolated,” she said. “How are they going to parent? That’s my biggest fear. What’s going to happen to these families?”
    Pickens Family Partners opened in 1994 under the name Prevent Child Abuse Pickens. The goal of the non-profit is, and has always been, to prevent child abuse and neglect. They accomplish this through various programs, including First Steps (in hospital visitation for new parents), Parents as Teachers (an early school readiness program), and Healthy Families (home visitation and other support for parents with preschool children). 
    “We currently have anywhere from 65 to 70 families on the programs and close to 148 children. We are going to have to cut from 40 to 50 families from that,” Lohman said. “We know what will happen, the rate of child abuse and neglect will go up but we won’t see it for three years because they are that far behind in data. I told someone they will have to build another Hope House.”


    In their 18 years, Pickens Family Partners has served over 2,000 families and over 4,000 children.
    “Our doors are not closing,” she said, pointing to several fundraisers she and her staff are organizing this year. “I’ve worked too hard.”
    Lohman said the problem began when the Children’s Trust Fund merged with the Governor’s Office for Children and Families in 2009, and the non-profit’s source of steady funding dried up.
    “With the Children’s Trust Fund, who funded us since the beginning, the grants were not easy but they were achievable if you knew what the criteria was,” Lohman said. “The cash flow, the reimbursements, everything was much easier.”
    When the merge happened, Pickens Family Partners had to apply for a “System of Care” Grant through the Governor’s Office for Children and Families to fund programs addressing the needs of families with children.
    System of Care grants encourage agencies to work collaboratively to provide services to these children, “focusing on the whole needs of the child and family, coordinating prevention, intervention, and treatment services,” according to the state website. 
    “We were the largest and primary recipient of those funds because we were losing the funding from Children’s Trust Fund,” Lohman said, who noted that the North Georgia Pregnancy Center and the CARES Food Pantry also received funding on that grant. “Our grant was for three years with the first year funded at 100 percent [$192,000], the second year required a 20-percent cash match and the third and final year a 30-percent cash match.  Our third year is ending December 31, 2012.”
    The idea behind gradually decreasing the award amount, Lohman said, is encouraging the non-profit to find other streams of funding within the community and to become self-sustaining. 
    “It doesn’t work,” Lohman said. “How do you sustain something that in the original grant was $192,000, and even down to what we received the second year? You can’t in this county. We’re lucky to sustain $10,000. There is no way.”
    Lohman said eight Georgia counties received close to $6 or $7 million over the three-year grant period, and she questions the business sense of the investment method.
    “They put over half a million dollars into this county, and it’s gone,” she said. “What kind of business sense is that, to put that kind of money into a county for services and it’s gone. Poof.”
    Lohman said the eight other counties that received the System of Care grant are all facing massive budget cuts come January 1.
    Lohman said her operating budget will be reduced from $260,000 a year to well under $200,000, and her staff will be reduced from six full-time employees to one.
    “We are going to reorganize and look at different funding streams. I’m hoping to keep at least one worker in January,” she said. “I’ll volunteer, because once you close the door as a non-profit it’s hard. We have a lot of local donors and it would be very hard to get that back again. I’ve had an 18-year relationship with some of these people. We could be back where we started in 1994 with an agency, a board of directors, and finding new money.”
    To help combat these budget cuts, Lohman and her team are organizing a Super Heroes Unite 5K Run & Obstacle Course on Saturday, Nov. 3 at Stone Mill in Ranger, Ga. See ad in this edition of the Progress.
    “These are getting really popular, the Warrior Dash type events,” she said, “and because of the help from my son-in-law’s brother and his friend with Element Climbing in Jasper, we are going to put one on. They have been amazing. They are building all the obstacle courses and everything.”
    Lohman hopes to raise $30,000 from the event, which will all go to fund Pickens Family Partners. The event invites you to take on over three miles of trail racing and obstacle courses. Costumes are encouraged. Preregistered racers get a T-shirt and other goodies, and everyone will get food, beer, music and other events.
    Cost is $55 to register, or $65 the day of the event.
    You can register for the event at or in person at the Pickens Family Partners office. For more information, or to sponsor or volunteer visit or call 770-737-6484. Donations are welcome.


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