You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘child abuse/neglect’ category.

For detailed information on these bills, use the Legislation Tracker tool on our website.

HB 185:  Service providers sheltering with runaway youth to report contact with children within 72 Hours.  Status:  Passed House and Senate.

HB 200:  Seeks to to discourage trafficking of persons for labor or sexual servitude and provide greater protections to persons subject to such crime.  Status:  Passed the House and Senate.

HB 265:  Creates two special bodies (the 2011 Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform for Georgians and the Special Joint Committee on Georgia Criminal Justice Reform) to study and reform Georgia’s criminal justice system.  Status:  Signed into law by the Governor.

HB 373:  A child adjudicated as a designated felon can not be discharged from DJJ or released from restrictive custody prior to the time provided in the court’s order.  Also provides that only the child or the child’s attorney can file a motion for early release or modification of a court order.  Status:  Passed House and Senate.

HB 471:  Changes to provisions related to the secure detention of children prior to a ruling in their case.  Status:  Remains in the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.

SB 31:  Allowing Parents of Minors Accused of Crimes to be Clients of Attorney Representing the Minor.  Status:  Passed the Senate.  Recommended Do Pass by House Judiciary Committee.  Withdrawn in the House and recommitted.

SB 105:  Children who commit designated felony acts to be granted parole.  Status:  Rests in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

SB 127:  Significantly revised and updates Georgia’s 40 year old Juvenile Code.   Status:  Currently in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

HB 641:  House Version of SB 127 (above).  This bill was introduced a few days before the end of the Session and will be refined over the interim.  Status:  Has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.

HB 162:  Registered sexual offenders prohibited from photographing minor without parent’s consent.  Status:  Passed House and Senate.

SB 112:  Amending provisions related to rights of military parents during deployment.  Status:  Passed Senate and House.

SB 172:  Home study recommending adoption to be completed before child adopted by third party.  Amended to include HB 65 which allows siblings or children of adopted people to access adoption files for medical treatment.  Status:  Passed the Senate and House.

SB 247:  Amends the laws on who can petition to adopt a child in Georgia by providing that a court should determine if the person petitioning for adoption is living with another adult  when deciding on the petition for adoption. This bill would require that the court may consider whether the person living with the petitioner would be a consistent presence in the child’s life, the nature of the relationship, and whether the presence of the other adult or relationship will be harmful or beneficial to the child as a factor in considering an application for adoption. Status:  Rests in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Advertisements

Last Wednesday, the Child Protection and Public Safety Act (the Children’s Code Rewrite bill) was reintroduced as Senate Bill 127 (formerly SB 292) by Senator Bill Hamrick of Carrollton (District 30) along with 43 co-sponsors.

For those of us involved in the project or watching the bill, we were thrilled when we learned that it had been refiled.  Things moved pretty swiftly since then as the first hearing on the bill was held at the Capitol on Monday, Feb. 28th. Even with the short notice, the hearing was packed with stakeholders and advocates ready to provide their support and input.

This hearing was quite productive and provided legislators with an overview of the expected long-term cost savings of the bill, a summary of changes from its original form to what is now SB 127 as well as the substantive changes proposed to the delinquency article.  We fully expect to have additional hearings to review the remainder of the bill and welcome public participation and input.  To ensure that you’re aware of upcoming hearings and all the activities surrounding the Children’s Code Rewrite, sign up to receive email updates and become a JUSTGeorgia coalition member.

Julia Neighbors, JUSTGeorgia Project Manager

Earlier today, DHS Commissioner Clyde Reese presented the proposed 2012 DHS Budget to the House Appropriations Human Services Subcommittee. After the budget conversation concluded, Representative Penny Houston, who chairs the Subcommittee, asked Commissioner Reese to comment on the recent deaths of children in Georgia which had occurred within the last few weeks. Rep. Houston stated that as she understood the facts, a DFCS referral had been made in some of those cases.

As part of his response, Commissioner Reese said that he wanted to “take a very hard look” at the practice of diversion. In cases of diversion, a decision is made to implement a short-term community-based DFCS response to an allegation of child maltreatment that’s not found to present evidence sufficient to cause concern. In such situations, the Department does not conduct any further assessment or intervention.  According to the Commissioner, one concern is that once a case is diverted, there’s no further follow up on the part of the Department. He said that while the Department is to be commended for decreasing the number of Georgia’s children who are committed to the care of the state and also for making an effort to keep families together, he questioned whether “the pendulum has swung too far the other way”. More specifically, he posed the question about the proper role of diversion in situations were child maltreatment is alleged.

It was a very honest conversation between two state leaders on an issue critical to the wellbeing and safety of children in our state. As the Commissioner and the Department look into this issue further, we’ll be watching to see what, if any, changes in practice and/or policy result.

Joann Yoon, Assoc. Policy Director for Child Health

Voices for Georgia’s Children

Next Tuesday, February 8th, JUSTGeorgia Coalition members will come together with Georgia’s network of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for a “Day at the Capitol.”  This will be a great time to get a quick update on the Child Protection and Public Safety Act, aka the Children’s Code Rewrite bill (which will be reintroduced any day now), meet your elected officials and share with them why this bill is important.

For those that can join us, we will be meeting in the Floyd Room of the Sloppy Floyd Building at 9:30 am for a legislative briefing, followed by a group photo with Governor Deal at 10:45 at the North Wing interior staircase.  After the photo I encourage each of you to visit with your legislators and invite them to join us for lunch back in the Floyd Room at 11:45.  It will certainly be a full day, but worth every effort as we continue the push for an improved children’s code which in turn will lead to improved outcomes for our children.  For more information, click here or email jneighbors@justga.org.  I hope to see you there!

Julia Neighbors, JUSTGeorgia Project Manager

Governor Nathan Deal’s new appointments to state agencies that focus on children bring some  young but proven leaders to kids’ issues.  We are excited by the prospects of these very able and dedicated public servants joining current agency directors in working together and setting goals for children.  

All have histories of cooperation and collaboration with child advocates and community service providers.  We welcome them and offer our support to improve child well being and raise our national rankings from the 40s to respectable levels.  Thank you, Governor Deal, and welcome to: 

  •  Amy Howell, former deputy in DJJ who got her start at the Barton Child Law and Policy Center at Emory Law School, will be the new commissioner of DJJ. 
  • Rachelle Carnesale, former deputy of the Office of the Child Advocate, will lead the Department of Family and Chidren’s Services.
  • Bobby Cagle, former DFCS legislative director, will lead the department of Early Care and Learning.

Pat Willis, Executive Director

Voices for Georgia’s Children

Kudos to the Division of Family and Children Services for committing resources to the education of children in foster care!

An article in today’s AJC announces DFCS’s plans to use federal stimulus dollars to hire 150 certified teachers to tutor the 3,000 Georgia foster children who are falling behind in school. According to the article foster children in Fulton and DeKalb counties fail the 3rd grade math CRCT at twice the rate and the 8th grade math CRCT at triple the rate of their non-foster care peers.

Children in foster care have experienced trauma and upheaval in their lives that make them vulnerable to many poor outcomes. It is essential that we target resources to help them succeed and this program appears to be a solid commitment to doing just that.

DFCS and the GA Dept of Education have been working together for a while now to share data and to examine ways they can partner to improve student success. Voices commends the efforts of DFCS to share the responsibility for educating these children and we encourage all state agencies and non-profits working with children and parents to do the same.

We also encourage DFCS to collect data on the effectiveness of the program and to openly share the results with the community so successes can be built upon and challenges addressed.

Beth Locker

Policy Director

Among other good news for children in the healthcare reform bill passed by Congress on March 23 is a commitment to reduce child abuse and neglect through home visitation programs.  The bill authorizes $1.5 billion over five years to be awarded as grants to states for services to families with infants and young children.  

Here’s the challenge for Georgia:  In order to receive funds the state must conduct assessments of factors indicating need for services and existing home visiting programs to ensure better targeting and coordination.   The assessments must be done within six months, and the clock started ticking on March 23. 

Which of our state agencies will step forward to lead this effort?  DFCS which has about $900,000 in one model of home visitation?  Public Health which is newly re-organizing with a strong interest but no designated funding?  The Governor’s Office for Children and Families which absorbed the Children’s Trust Fund , once but no longer a major source of home visiting funding?  The Department of Early Care and Learning which has an inherent interest in the age group but no history or funding for early intervention programs?

Georgia’s children desperately need these programs.  Child abuse is greatest among very young children.  Home visitation programs have proven to reduce child abuse and neglect and have promise of improving child development for later learning.  Advocates need to step up and encourage state agency leadership and collaboration to get these assessments done now.  The clock is ticking.

Pat Willis, Executive Director

Voices for Georgia’s Children, www.georgiavoices.org

DFCS may be endangering the safety and well-being of thousands of vulnerable children by diverting them from the custody of the state child welfare system and failing to provide the services and protections necessary to keep them safe

See press release at Georgia Child Welfare Practices May Risk Kids’ Lives, Children’s Rights Advocates Charge in Federal Court.

Children’s Rights, Inc. a national advocacy group working to reform child welfare systems, largely through major class action lawsuits, filed a motion in federal court earlier this week in an effort to force the State to turn over documents related to diversion, safety resources and temporary guardianships of children in Fulton and DeKalb counties.

Based largely on reports by the Office of the Child Advocate, Children’s Rights states a concern that DFCS is misusing both diversions and safety resources to artificially suppress the number of investigations and the number of kids in foster care and that the result is leaving abused and neglected children in danger and denying  them basic legal protections.

The motion was filed as a part of the class action lawsuit known as Kenny A. v. Perdue that was first filed against the state in 2002. It will now be up to the federal court judge to decide if DFCS must turn over the requested documents.

Beth
Policy Director
Voices for Georgia’s Children
www.georgiavoices.org

Found a great new resource for child welfare policy – the State Child Welfare Policy Database. It’s a website sponsored by Casey Family Programs that pulls together policies from across the country and lets you search by state or subject matter. Right now the subject matter is limited to: 1) Child Welfare Financing; 2) Kinship Care Policies; and 3) Older Youth in Foster Care but each of those is broken down into multiple important subtopics and the site says it will soon be adding more subjects.

Looking just at older youth, there are breakdowns for:

  • Foster Care Age Limits
  • Circumstances in which Youth can Stay in Care Past 18th Birthday
  • Requirements Youth Must Comply with to Stay in Care Past 18th Birthday
  • Circumstances in which Youth Can Stay in Care Past 19th Birthday
  • Requirements Youth Must Comply with to Stay in Care Past 19th Birthday
  • Court Jurisdiction After 18
  • Placements for Older Youth
  • Re-entry into Foster Care
  • Chafee Foster Care Independence Program
  • State-funded Independent Living (IL)/Transition Services

Check it out at http://www.childwelfarepolicy.org/pages/map.cfm and also let me know if you’re aware of other strong on-line policy resources.

beth

Over the last several weeks I have been traveling with colleagues around the state making presentations about JUSTGeorgia’s initiative, the comprehensive revision of our juvenile law code (SB 292, the Child Protection and Public Safety Act).  During these meetings we also present information on relationship building with elected officials.  I’ve been pleased to see in attendance a cross section of child advocates, child-serving agency personnel and community citizens.  Their experiences with SB 292 ranges from being aware that proposed juvenile code reform exists to being invested in seeing it actually happen.

When I ask meeting attendees if they think their legislators are aware of SB 292, a few people raise their hands.  When I ask them if they think their legislators are knowledgeable about SB 292, more hands come down than remain up and when asked about whether they think their legislators are invested in juvenile code reform, almost all of the hands come down.  We have our work cut out for us in improving outcomes for children through juvenile code reform.

My hope for those that attend these meetings is that they will take what they’ve learned, coupled with the interest and commitment that brought them to the meeting in the first place and share that information with their elected officials and their communities.  This coming Tuesday, February 23rd provides just that opportunity, when JUSTGeorgia coalition members and CASA volunteers from all over the state come together for a Day at the Capitol. It is our responsibility to not only share information with our elected officials so that they are aware of the juvenile code reform effort, but to also provide them with the information to help them become knowledgeable about, if not invested in improving the outcomes of our children through an improved juvenile code.  For more information about JUSTGeorgia and SB 292, visit www.justgeorgia.org.

Admins/Authors

Enter your e-mail address to subscribe to our blog and receive notifications of new posts by e-mail.

Join 18 other followers

Tweets

Flickr Photos

Month’s Posts

September 2017
S M T W T F S
« Dec    
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930