Kathleen Bennett will tread new water come January.
After 32 years advocating for children with disabilities in the state’s Head Start preschool program, Bennett will begin a two-year appointment to the Georgia Child Fatality Review Board.
“You get stagnant after a while and need to try something different,” she said.
While maintaining her current job, Bennett will serve on a state panel overseeing local boards that investigate the cause and circumstances of children’s deaths.
The state panel, composed of 17 members, meets quarterly.
“What happened with this particular child and what can the community, the family, do to prevent this type of occurrence in the future,” said Bennett, adding that she’s still uncertain of her exact responsibilities.
Bennett is a veteran when it comes to learning on the job. When she began work with Head Start, she had a background with child development but never worked with children with disabilities.
In more than three decades of work, she has helped families identify cognitive or physical disabilities in their children.
Every case has been unique, a quality Bennett hopes will benefit her work on the panel.
“Often, Head Start is the first to approach a family that the child might have a disability,” Bennett said. “It gets in your system, and it’s just a fit for me. I’m empathetic to the families.”
A co-worker recommended Bennett to serve on the panel, and she was appointed Dec. 21.
“It’s not leaving my job here,” she said. “It’s just a new opportunity to get to know other people in the state and in my community.”