After The Clayton Crescent published a story about the parents of special needs adults, which included their concerns about what they say is a lack of services from the Clayton Center, we received additional calls from other special needs parents with similar stories.

We also got a call from CSB Chair Khadijah Works, who we spoke with as part of that story. Works said that that she had not known the conversation was on the record, that the information from our conversation was “inaccurate,” that it had caused problems, and took particular issue with the word “misspent,” which she said she felt should have been “misappropriated.”

We explained that all conversations with reporters are on the record unless the reporter says otherwise, which is standard industry practice and our stated policy.

In an effort to ensure fairness and accuracy, we asked which parts of the story were inaccurate, she said, “All of it.” When asked which parts of the story were untrue, she said, “Have a good day.”

In order to give readers more information about the CSB’s role, we are adding video from the March 14 Board of Commissioners work session, in which Works explains what the board does, the programs it offers, the challenges it faces, and the fact that, despite many state-mandated meetings, members are not compensated for their time.

The presentationwas one in a series that the BOC has asked each county board to deliver so that the public will have a better understanding of what those appointed boards do.

Works said that 156 people with developmental disabilities have been served during the current fiscal year, which she said includes the adult day program:

YouTube video

The CSB handles many other programs, such as drug addiction, suicide prevention and other mental health issues, and residential care. During the presentation, Works said the board has to take off work to attend numerous mandatory meetings, and asked that the BOC start paying CSB members.

“When I started the board, we were $2.8 million in the red,” Works told the BOC. “This is five years ago. FY22, at our last board meeting, we were $333,324 in the good. Let’s not forget that this was during a pandemic, which we operated at limited capacity but we never really stopped providing services. In comparison to other community service boards in Georgia, you’d be very proud of the work we have continued to provide, meaning a lot of the other CSBs lost a lot of programming.”

Seven board members “have to take off work. We have to go in and out of town for meetings often. We have to attend meetings with our legislators, we attend events at the Capitol, we speak with attorneys, we read and approve contracts—I mainly read and approve contracts, but we do it together—make sure we are in compliance, attend state meetings, et cetera. If I am not in attendance at these meetings, I’m not in compliance with CSB, DBHDD, our state that governs us….it’s mandatory. They don’t have any clue about our personal lives, and what we just have to be there.

“We’re asking for compensation for this board,” Works said. “This is a volunteer board, we definitely understand that. It’s been an unpaid board, but Clayton Center has been serving Clayton County for 52 years and they’ve had an unpaid board. So we work really hard with all passion about what we do, and we are asking for pay.”

Chairman Jeff Turner replied, “Let me say this. I appreciate the work that you all are doing down there, because I speak with Dr. Adams quite often and I have firsthand knowledge of the work that you’re doing, and very proud of it. This board—not the board, but the citizens of Clayton County—through a SPLOST, has approved for a stabilization, a crisis stabilization facility to be built in Clayton County. One of the issues, and I’m sure you well know this, is that the operational costs for the employees. So there’s an issue there, as far as I would never want to build a building and not be able to staff it. So Dr. Adams and I have spoken to the commissioner of health, Kevin Taylor, we have talked to him about some funding for Clayton County, and hopefully that will come to fruition, because we don’t need to build a small building for the funds that are allocated through the SPLOST, we need to add additional funds to that so we can build it right. But with that being said, we’ve also got to make sure that we are being able to cover the facilities and the employees that we have now, ’cause we don’t want them jumping ship and going somewhere else, either, because we have great employees within that department working for Clayton County, and again, I appreciate all that they do.

“One thing that we can also do as a board is take a look at the stipend—not stipend, but the block grant that we give the CSB, and see if we can increase that, and at the same time, consider whether we can, because some boards can’t be paid, I don’t know if this is your board or not, but of course we would have to do our homework on it, but take that under consideration as well.”

District 1 Commissioner Dr. Alieka Anderson added, “I just want to say thank you for all of your hard work and dedication. I do know the number of hours that you all put in, and I would definitely be for giving you all some type of compensation for the work that you all do. You do go out of town, you are different places, you all have fought hard for mental health within this county, and again, you know, as commissioners, our jobs are to help with mental health, and help with the issues that you guys are going through. So again, I just want to say thank you for all your hard work and dedication, it’s duly noted, and that I would definitely be for making sure that you guys got compensation for all of the hard work that you do.”

Works also said that the state put Clayton County’s sustainability plan through a two-year process when other counties’ plans usually get approved in one year.

“So we had to get on calls every month and they would always say, ‘Well, what does your board think?’ So we didn’t want to leave Dr. Adams and he’s working really, really hard, our CEO, so we have to be present. Usually, there’s a saying with us that wherever he goes, I go. So we have to support him as a board because they’re going to ask, ‘what does your board think?’ So we try to stay as present as possible.”

We hope this provides readers with additional perspective on the challenges facing developmentally disabled adults and the volunteers and agencies serving them.

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Robin Kemp

Robin Kemp is executive editor and CEO of The Clayton Crescent, which she founded in 2020. She has worked for Gambit, CNN, The Weather Channel, Clayton News, Henry Herald, and numerous freelance outlets....

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