Operating Guidelines

Northwest Georgia System of Care Advisory Council Operating Guidelines


Our vision is that all children (up to age 21) and caregivers in the Northwest Georgia 17-county region have access to timely and appropriate interventions and supports that help children function normally in their families and in their communities.


To create a family driven, youth guided, and culturally competent system of mental health interventions and supports organized into a comprehensive and integrated network to meet the multiple and changing needs of children and their families.

Role of the Advisory Council

The Advisory Council is the group overseeing the regional system of care collaboration in the 17 counties of Northwest Georgia (Bartow, Catoosa, Chattooga, Cherokee, Dade, Douglas, Fannin, Floyd, Gilmer, Gordon, Haralson, Murray, Paulding, Pickens, Polk, Walker, and Whitfield Counties).  This system of care collaboration includes multiple components and subsystems serving youth with mental health needs across multiple agencies. In addition to collaborative efforts at the regional level through the Advisory Council, collaborative sub-regional councils will be formed to implement the mission of the SOC on a local level.

The Advisory Council will serve as an advisory body to recipients of grants that support the Council’s mission and are consistent with the Memorandum of Understanding.  The Council may provide consultation and technical assistance to fiscal agents and service providers.  The Council will not serve as a fiscal agent, but will maintain a collaborative partnership with grantors, fiscal agents and respective service providers.

On behalf of the 17 county region, the Advisory Council shall:

  • Identify service needs,  availability and effectiveness
  • Advocate for underserved children who are at risk and those with specialized needs
  • Plan strategically for collaborative opportunities to strengthen the integration of system of care principles into agency and service delivery practices
  • Monitor service delivery for best practices and effective outcomes
  • Provide technical assistance and consultation to local community systems of care.
  • Serve in an advisory role to child welfare, juvenile justice, education, public health, mental health, early childhood, and community collaboratives
  • Offer consultation to regional and community agencies
  • Provide social marketing for effective services and systems
  • Ensure ongoing evaluation and conduct quality assurance activities
  • Engage state leadership to support local, regional and state efforts in transformation
  • Facilitate  and assure system transformation and its long term sustainability
  • Act to accomplish the mission of the Council on a regional level through regional collaborative grants, agreements, and other funding.

The authority of the Council is established through a Memorandum of Understanding signed by all members of the Council.  Council membership is a diverse body of representatives comprised of judicial leadership, child-serving agencies, family members, and regional and community leaders committed to the well-being of children and families.


The Advisory Council is comprised of the following individuals:

  • A representative Juvenile Court Judge from each of the following counties: Paulding, Bartow, Polk, Haralson, Floyd, Walker, Dade, Gordon, Whitfield, Murray, Fannin, Catoosa, Chattooga, Gilmer, Douglas, Cherokee and Pickens
  • DFCS Region 1 Director (or permanent designee)
  • DFCS Region 3 Director
  • 2 of the following representatives from DJJ:  District Director(s) and/or Regional Administrator
  • DBHDD Regional Coordinator
  • School Superintendent (Representative)
  • Georgia Family Connection Representative
  • Public Health District Program Manager
  • Lookout Mountain Community Service Board Executive Director
  • Highland Rivers Community Service Board Executive Director
  • Law Enforcement Representative, President of NW GA LE Executive Association
  • Provider Representatives recommended by Regional DBHDD and approved by the Council
  • Any other provider deemed necessary by the Council
  • Family Representative (Approved by Council)
  • Youth Representative (Approved by Council – see criteria at end of document)

If an individual leaves a designated position, the person assuming the position will be asked to replace the individual on the Council.  Their respective representing group will recommend representatives.  To expand membership, additional members may be added by majority vote.  A current member who will provide information on the proposed candidate’s capacity to contribute to the mission of the Council will nominate candidates. The Council may approve designees.

Protocol of the Advisory Council

  • The Advisory Council meets monthly on the second Friday at 10:00 a.m.
  • Additional meetings may be called as needed.  Notice of cancelling a meeting or changing the time or location of the regular meeting shall be given by email as soon as possible and at least a week prior to the change or cancellation
  • An agenda and minutes will be distributed by e-mail at least two days prior to the regular meeting
  • Meetings are open
  • A closed (confidential) meeting may be called by a majority vote of the Council when circumstances warrant
  • One vote per membership position.  A quorum consists of nine individuals one of whom must be a Co-Chair
  • Consensus is preferred but majority vote rules when required
  • There are no proxies
  • Council is led under Co-leadership of a Judicial Chairperson and an Administrative Chairperson
  • A designated secretary will take notes, distribute through e-mail and maintain as records
  • Officers serve one-year terms and may serve one additional term if re-elected
  • Term of service will be for a calendar year (January – December)
  • Council members shall review press, media and speaking opportunities with one of the  Co-Chairs before speaking as a representative of the Advisory Council
  • Members may not vote on issues in which their agency has a fiduciary interest

The System of Care Regional Collaborative consists of Advisory Council members and the Subregional Collaboratives members.  In addition to Advisory Council meetings, there shall be two (2) meetings of the System of Care Regional Collaborative in March and October.  Invitees include the SOC Regional Collaborative members and the public.  The location, time and agenda of the bi-annual meetings will be sent by email at least 10 days prior to the meeting to Collaborative members who have provided their email addresses to the Advisory Council.

Sub-Region Collaboration: 

The vision and mission of the Advisory Council remain strong and have been the foundation for changes in the behavioral health system in the 17 county region.  The Advisory Council sees value in implementing the principles of the regional system of care at the sub-region level and providing support and guidance to create local systems of care.

The Advisory Council will support six sub-region Collaboratives based on county proximity and the natural patterns of shared resources.  The collaboratives are:

  •  Cherokee and Bartow Counties
  • Chattooga, Dade, Walker, and Catoosa Counties
  • Polk, Haralson, and Floyd Counties
  • Paulding and Douglas Counties
  • Fannin, Gilmer, and Pickens Counties
  • Whitfield, Murray, and Gordon Counties.

The role of the six sub-region Collaboratives shall be:

  • To identify local service needs, availability, and effectiveness.
  • To advocate for underserved children who are at risk and those with special needs.
  • To plan strategically for collaborative opportunities to strengthen the integration of system of care principles into agency and service delivery practices.
  • To monitor service delivery for evidenced based best practices and effective outcomes.
  • To forge relationship-building of local stakeholders to improve communication, awareness of existing resources, and how to access them.
  • For solution development and decision making
  • To build a local system of care that recognizes the strengths and weaknesses of the respective communities.
  • To report to the Advisory Council local needs, activities, and accomplishments.

Membership of the sub-region Collaborative may include but is not limited to representatives from:

  • Juvenile Court
  • County DFCS Office
  • County and/or City Schools
  • Behavioral Health Providers
  • Law Enforcement
  • Hospital Emergency Departments
  • DJJ
  • Family Connection
  • Public Health Office
  • Family representative
  • Youth representative.

The sub-region Collaboratives are expected to meet regularly, have an agenda, record minutes, and seek solutions to local needs.  The minutes are to be forwarded to the Advisory Council.  A representative should attend a meeting of the Advisory Council quarterly and report on the local needs/activities.  Each sub-regional collaborative shall select a leader who will be responsible for scheduling its meetings, creating agendas, having minutes of the meetings recorded, and communicating with the Advisory Council.

Groups that already perform these or similar roles in the counties such as LIPT or RIAT, may function as the sub-region collaborative in lieu of creating a new collaboration.  However, it must address systems issues and solutions.

* Criteria for Youth Representative on the Advisory Council:

Youth is goal oriented and enthusiastic about serving in this role.

  1. Youth is willing to fulfill the requirements of the position such as:  complete youth leadership training, attend meetings, etc.
  2. Youth is between the ages of 15 and 21 at the time of appointment.
  3. Youth is enrolled in school (and maintaining passing grades), GED program, or has graduated from high school.
  4. Youth is stable in the community.

The Workgroup has recommended that two youth representatives be selected to share the role as the parent representatives do.  A recommendation form will be developed for youth nominations.  Two letters of recommendation must accompany each nomination.

Service on the Council is at the discretion of the Council.


New Members

New to the NWGA System of Care Council? Please take a moment to review the New Member Packet below:

SOC Welcome Packet

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