Georgia News

DECAL commissioner to head Division of Family and Children Services

Governor Nathan Deal has announced that Bobby Cagle will become the interim director of the Division of Family and Children Services, leaving his position as commissioner of the Department of Early Care and Learning. Cagle will replace Director Sharon Hill, who is leaving to serve at the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget. Amy Jacobs, senior policy adviser for the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget, will replace Cagle as interim commissioner of the Department of Early Care and Learning.

“We have no greater responsibility than caring for our state’s most vulnerable citizens,” Deal said. “It is clear there is a need for a more deliberate reform process of the child welfare system, and we are taking action on several fronts. We must work to ensure that our children are safe and that they get their best shot at a good life. Commissioner Cagle has been a longtime champion of child care and early education, playing a vital role in administering our nationally recognized Pre-K program alongside a number of other responsibilities. I have no doubt that Commissioner Cagle will serve our state well in his new role.”

In March of this year, Deal created the Child Welfare Reform Council and council members have met twice to discuss possible executive agency reforms and legislative fixes to improve our state’s child welfare system. Reform recommendations from the council will be presented to the governor this fall. To streamline the review process and efficiently evaluate recommendations, the Division of Family and Children Services will report directly to the Governor’s Office.

The governor also tapped Katie Jo Ballard to serve as the deputy interim director of the Division of Family and Children Services, leaving her role as executive director of the Governor’s Office for Children and Families.

These appointments take effect Monday, and individuals will serve on an interim basis until a permanent replacement is named.

Bobby Cagle

Cagle serves as commissioner of Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning. Previously, he served as the director of legislative and external affairs for the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services. He also served as the family services director for DFCS and was responsible for statewide policy and program development in the areas of child welfare, domestic violence, sexual assault and provider contracting. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the National Association of State Child Care Administrators (NASCCA) and the National Advisory Board of the Center on Enhancing Learning Outcomes. Cagle earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Sociology and a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Amy Jacobs

Jacobs is the senior policy adviser for the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget. She began her career at OPB in 2001 in the planning, research and evaluation division where her work focused on strategic planning and program evaluation. Also while at OPB, she served as director of the Education Division and the General Government Division. Prior to that, she worked for two years in the Georgia Court of Appeals. She is a member of the Governor’s Innovation Fund Advisory Board. She is a graduate of the University of Georgia. She and her husband, John, are members of Northside United Methodist Church. They have two children and reside in Mableton.

Katie Jo Ballard

Ballard currently serves as executive director of the Governor’s Office for Children and Families. She is co-chairman of the Georgia Children’s Cabinet along with First Lady Sandra Deal and co-founder and current board chair of Georgia Cares. She also serves on the Agency Leadership Team, Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, Crime Victim’s Compensation Board, Ready by 21 Leadership Council, the Supreme Court’s Justice for Children Committee and the Criminal Justice Reform Council. Ballard earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Georgia. She and her husband, Dylan, are members of Buckhead Church and reside in Atlanta.

DDS to provide blood type option for Georgia driver’s license or ID card


Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) Commissioner Rob Mikell, under the direction of Governor Nathan Deal, is providing a new emergency preparedness initiative for customers obtaining a driver’s license or state identification card.  Customers may request that their blood type be printed on the back of their permanent card. This addition is completely optional and may help medical personnel during an emergency. (Sample Attached)

“In an emergency situation, medical personnel need up-to-date health information to quickly and efficiently treat injuries,” said Governor Deal. “To better assist these first responders, our Department of Driver Services is now giving Georgians the option to include their blood type on their license or identification cards. This is yet another example of our continued commitment to the safety and well-being of our state’s drivers.”

“I am grateful for the support of Governor Deal and the partnership with Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, Commissioner, Department of Public Health (DPH), to inform our customers of this new option,” said Commissioner Mikell.  “It is completely optional but may serve as an important medical alert for those that utilize it.”

“Every second matters in an emergency,” said Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health. “If a person becomes incapacitated and cannot speak, it’s our hope that this information could speak for them, alerting rescuers to the person’s blood type and saving precious time.”

On the application for issuance or renewal of a driver’s license or ID card, customers will indicate if they would like their blood type printed on the back of their permanent card. A customer who indicates yes will then select their blood type.   The customer’s permanent license or ID will have their blood type printed on the back of the card under Medical Information.

For complete driver education, licensing and testing information including many online services, visit

Georgia declared a Purple Heart state, August 7 will be Purple Heart Day

Senate Bill 276

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and Maj. Gen. Jim Butterworth, Georgia’s Adjutant General, honored the courage, commitment and sacrifice of four Georgia Guardsmen in front of their families and fellow servicemen Saturday, April 26, 2014, in Atlanta.

Sgt. 1st Class Ryan Rosenburg, Spc. Jonathan Mathews, Sgt. Stephen Bray and Spc. John Rivers received the Purple Heart Medal for wounds received in combat while assigned to the 1-214th Field Artillery Battalion.

Following the ceremony, Deal signed Senate Bill 276, which declared Georgia to be a Purple Heart state and designated Aug. 7 as Purple Heart Day. The legislation was sponsored by state Sen. Ed Harbison, a Purple Heart Medal recipient who served three tours in Vietnam.

“These four men, who were honored here today, are recognized for the sacrifices they have made,” said Deal. “But all of you who were in harm’s way were simply one breath away from being in the same exact position. So, in some ways, this ceremony, even though it is dedicated to the Purple Heart recipients, I believe it should be dedicated to all of you, because, you did not have a choice about where you were. You were in the line of fire in many instances, and we are pleased that you all came back. I believe this ceremony is for all of you, and I believe these four men would say the same thing.”

The governor asked the four Purple Heart recipients to stand with him as he signed SB 276, and gave each of the Soldiers a pen used during the signature ceremony.

“We thank the Soldiers and family members represented here today,” continued Deal.

“Sometimes people forget the sacrifices made by members of our military today,” said Deal. “They don’t understand the sacrifices made by Soldiers and family members. This is a story that we need to tell our fellow Americans, because it is the story of the sacrifices that have made our country great from its inception. We will continue only so long as there are men and women willing to voluntarily step forward.”

More than 16,500 Georgia Guardsmen have deployed overseas since Sept. 11, 2001. The 1-214th FA is one of the most recent Georgia National Guard units to return from overseas duty. The battalion conducted more than 720 combat patrols in western Afghanistan, from May to December 2013, and was awarded the Meritorious Unit Citation. Approximately 500 Guardsmen are currently serving overseas as part of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.