By Mike Klein
Georgia legislators will have an opportunity this session to discuss whether the state should implement a creative approach that would retain the investigation of child abuse claims in the public sector but enhance private sector resources for children who are in foster care custody.
Senate Bill 350 introduced this week draws its lineage from Senate working group hearings that were convened this past fall by Lt. Governor Casey Cagle. The legislation was assigned to the Health and Human Services Committee. There is no first hearing date at this writing.
How to care for children who are in child welfare services custody has been controversial for years. Although the number fluctuates, about 7,000 children are in state custodial care daily. Governor Nathan Deal pledged to fund 500 new caseworker slots over three years shortly after two highly publicized foster care deaths late last year. The initial commitment is $7.4 million in his 2015 proposed budget and $27 million over three years. Deal also signaled a move toward a public – private partnership involving some child welfare services before the 2014 General Assembly.
Senate Bill 350 would give DFCS a January 1, 2015 deadline to create a plan “to competitively bid the provision of child welfare services through fixed price contracts” with community-based providers, to include foster care and adoption services. Implementation would start July 1, 2015 and would phase in over two years. Georgia currently places about half of foster care children in the private sector so if implemented, this idea would expand the existing model.
Learn more in these resources provided by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation:
Click here for videos on the Public Policy Foundation YouTube channel. This folder includes all testimony from the Senate working group that met prior to the 2014 General Assembly. Speakers include proponents who support a transition of the child welfare system, public sector stakeholders from state agencies and community advocates. Recommended: videos with proponent Rick Jackson who is a former foster child and Tarren Bragdon, CEO at the Foundation for Government Accountability; Bragdon discusses similar Florida reforms.
Foundation Forum Articles:
Learn more about the concept in these articles published on the Forum:
Never A Better Time to Transform Georgia Child Welfare by Rick Jackson
Foster Care Children Should be Everyone’s Priority by Tarren Bragdon
Successful Foster Care Engages Children Where They Live by Bill Hancock