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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 and also let me know if you’re aware of other strong on-line policy resources.


For the last few months I’ve been developing a policy agenda for Voices for Georgia’s Children that centers around disconnected and vulnerable youth. A lot of that work will focus on the education system but Voices is committed to an even broader approach when it comes to our most disenfranchised children. Included in any definition of disconnected and vulnerable youth would certainly be children involved in the state foster care system and therefore Voices is supporting HB 1085, a bill dropped earlier this week by Representative Katie Dempsey (R-Floyd) on behalf of the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS).

One issue of particular concern to Voices is that of connection; connection to family, to community and to educational supports to ensure youth enter adulthood ready and able to thrive. For that reason, Voices supports the proposed HB 1085. We believe that the addition to the juvenile code of provisions specifically addressing the needs of children in foster care related to sibling relationships, educational stability and the development of written transitional living plans are good for the children of Georgia.

A key impetus for HB 1085 is compliance with the Federal Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act (P.L. 110-351). For more information take a look at the website of the Fostering Connections National Resource Center.


As I write this post, the clock reads “1:09 am,” yet I can’t sleep, in part due the bad news for Georgia’s kids that keeps reverberating in my brain.

And, I wonder… which of our dreams for the future of Georgia’s children have been dashed by the current budget crisis?

I’ve emerged from a sobering three days spent listening to various heads of the state agencies presenting their proposed budgets for the remainder of the current fiscal year and FY 2011.

Just a few of the cuts to services that affect children throughout the state include:
• Cutting $800 million in the basic funding schools receive this year and in FY 2011;
• Reducing pre-adoption assistance contracts with organizations that assist DHS in recruiting and screening potential adoptive homes;
• Cutting $1.3 million in FY 10 for the Independent Living Program for youth aging out of foster care;
• Cutting $518,000 from family violence reduction programs in FY 10;
• Cutting food stamp eligibility worker positions;
• Reducing funding for Federally Qualified Health Centers;
• Cutting Medicaid provider rates; and
• Eliminating resource coordinators who work with Georgia pre-K families.

These cuts must be giving agency heads nightmares.

B.J. Walker, Commissioner of Human Services, called cuts to her agency “painful” and said that some cuts would result in the agency not being able to deliver the same standard of services. She said that the budget crisis has required her and her staff to take a hard look at “what are ‘must dos’ versus ‘should dos’ and ‘nice to dos’” for the kids in her agency’s care.

Secretary of Education, Kathy Cox, told legislators that the deep cuts to the Department of Education will mean than failing schools will not get the assistance they need to improve and ensure better outcomes for Georgia’s students.

And, Dr, Rhonda Medows who leads the Department of Community Health, told lawmakers that unless they approve proposals to generate new revenue by instituting hospital and Medicaid provider fees, they will have to either drastically cut rates to Medicaid providers or cut the entire Medicaid program upon which 1.6 million Georgians and an entire healthcare industry relies.

Despite the grim news, I know this: members of the legislative leadership do care about our youngest citizens and our strong community of child advocates will speak up for kids throughout the legislative session.

This gives me the courage to hope for peaceful slumber and not nightmares when I finally shut my eyes.


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