Created: Wed, 02 Apr 2014 04:38:00 EST
Updated: Wed, 02 Apr 2014 04:39:41 EST
In front of the new Thomas Jackson Juvenile Justice Center in Macon, handprints of adopted children will serve as a reminder of the children in our community in need of a loving and caring home.
Lauren Easterling, a foster and adoptive parent, says, "This building is a reminder that permanency and stability need to be the ruling factors in what decisions are made for our children."
Easterling is one of the parents who spoke at the commemoration ceremony. She is a therapist with Lighthouse For Families, and after seeing the needs of so many children in our community, she fostered and later adopted siblings Juliet and Ransom. She explains what this new facility means for Bibb County,
"There’s a place in our community dedicated solely to justice and permanency for our children."
The construction of the 25,000 square-foot court facility cost seven millions dollars. It is funded through the SPLOST project approved in November 2011 by Macon and Bibb voters. Chief Juvenile Court Judge Thomas Matthews says, "Never were your pennies better served than this I think."
Judge Matthews continues to explain the current location of the juvenile court system, in the Bibb County Courthouse, does not provide the privacy and safety needed for the juvenile system.
The center will house services that connect troubled youth with people who can help. Along with the juvenile court, the new facility will also house the intake arm of the Department of Juvenile Justice, the District Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office, sheriff's office, and special offices for citizen panel reviews for children who are in foster care.
The facility is named after civil rights attorney Thomas M. Jackson, who became Macon’s first African American judge after challenging segregation in the 1960s. The center is expected to open this Summer.
Easterling sums up the commemoration by saying, "There’s a great need for foster and adoptive parents, and these children, just like this building, are not invisible."