Shuffling Deck Chairs on the Titanic, a New Senate Platform?

Sitting in the second of the Georgia Senate Study Committee on Foster Care & Adoption meetings was different this time. Both my husband and our foster child were present with me. We packed a lunch. Many things discussed resonated with us and I’ll touch on some of those here. Since beginning writing this, a U.S. Senate Committee meeting has been held in which it was disclosed that juvenile justices have been instructed, in the case of some children, to be incarcerated for the sake of space. Please take the time to read, friend of the blog, George Chidi’s piece on The Atlanta Objective. I’m going to save y’all the hand-wringing and pearl-clutching and tell you to GET OFF YOUR ASSES AND YOUR LEGISLATIVE BUDGET AND FIX THIS. Lost youth and young people’s interaction with the criminal justice system is not exclusive to Atlanta, friends. Imma need GOOA to clean up their mess before blaming the City of Atlanta for the crime problem (AGAIN). I’m too tired for dog whistles and buzzy headlines.

For us, our child is the foster care subject matter expert. Ironically, unlike anything else around us, this is a path our child has walked before us and we have little context or knowledge to add. I wish we did. My husband and I have read many books, and policy papers (foster care was one of his policy areas) but like I’ve described living in our neighborhood- it’s a very different experience to read about something vs. when it’s staring you in the face. Like before, this committee meeting was heavy-handed on data, and information, and efficiently run by the precise Chairwoman. Much more space existed in the seats this time though, and I’m guessing anyone who was initially interested in the topic got whatever answers they needed and hasn’t felt the need to return. That’s unfortunate and I’m going to use this piece to weave my family’s story in between so the richness of experience isn’t lost. I want you to soak this up so much that like Virginia, Georgia begins an ongoing vigilance and conversation around our foster care system, and to do that, dear reader, I’m going to need your help too. 

It is very clear that agencies here are trying to do good. I believe Commissioner Broce is as well, despite the recent headlines. What’s clear is that like Virginia, Georgia would benefit from an office in the legislature similar to the Advocate for the Child, like the Virginia Commission on Youth, that coordinates across agencies and departments in the state to remove the silos and update regulations, with direct access to the legislature. I’m writing this after three of the four committee meetings, and I still see some gaps. I remain hopeful the last meeting of the Committee will involve filling them and shedding light on the issue of incarceration of Georgia’s foster children. Only time will tell, and either way, if you’re reading my pieces about this I’m assuming you have some vested interest. I will try to do my part in delivering for you.

Here’s the agenda. 

Here’s the committee’s link for the videos

TLDR version of my recommendations: 

  • Connect federal funding to our HBCUs and university systems to analyze areas of mental health support and their effects on the family. Measure it, analyze the cost-benefit ratio if you need to, and then regularly allocate money to support families that are on the edge. Do this, and I’m betting you’ll need fewer prisons or foster homes. 
  • Federally fund and investigate the economic impact of parental leave. (Hint: it grows economies.) Compare rural and urban areas in Georgia. KY’s already done this
  • Create an entity similar to Virginia’s Commission On Youth that has a direct connection to the General Assembly and direct oversight over DFCS. 
  • Invest in and fund regular maintenance and updates of online systems that enable records to follow the child. SMILES and GRITS could use an update.
  • Invest in and fund regular maintenance updates of an online system that incorporates Juvenile Justice records into the aforementioned systems. Siloing these systems isn’t helpful. 

I particularly liked the presentation by Tammy Hill, NCSL Project Manager, Health Program & Heather Wilson, NCSL Senior Policy Specialist, Child and Families Program. Their presentation focused on and explained Adverse Childhood Experiences. I’ve written about ACES several times here, whether I’ve discussed the Atlanta Police Department or foster care. I was glad that Chair Kirkpatrick had this nonpartisan group make this presentation. I was particularly interested in the legislation listed on this slide.

If you have been living under a rock and are unfamiliar with the acronym, by all means, please avail yourself of it via the video before you make any decisions about fellow humans. This next slide references legislation on Best Interest Placements and Removal Prevention. I haven’t read the legislation, but I’d wager it doesn’t include incarceration. 

The next presentation was given by Dr. Jon DeGarmo and he discussed a lot about education. This was timely because I was having a conversation about education myself with DFCS and Atlanta Public Schools. Spoiler alert: APS wasn’t the challenge. DFCS had failed to share some details with APS about our foster kid’s (FK) education journey, namely that at least three of FK’s previous education experiences made the news for abuse, one made the NATIONAL NEWS after it was shut down following the death of three teens. So I was going back and forth in what ended up being a 43 or 45-email-length thread with DFCS at the time with their Education Specialist who showed up 15 minutes late (as did her supervisor) to a meeting that was to be our Best Interest Determination for our foster child (FK), to set FK’s expectations for their new school. This Specialist spent 15 minutes telling us what DFCS had to offer in a slew of acronyms, which included introducing the idea of support through a third-party contracted provider, called Multi-Agency Alliance for Children (MAAC). As of publication, no tutoring has yet been scheduled. This, along with being told to drop FK off at school the next school day without any further plan for accommodations, or the fact that we were making up a court appearance due to DFCS’s inability to be present last time was the totality of what DFCS had to offer us regarding education. My husband and I were told FK would be picked up if we were unable to bring FK to the school and DFCS would proceed with the meeting without our presence.

I sent a text message to Commissioner Broce. I thought it was better than winding up on the evening news.

In the Senate Study Committee on Foster Care & Adoption presentation, FK learned that on average, most children in foster care are at least 18 months behind their peers in education. FK turned to me with a smile and said “Yep” in a ‘Makes sense’ kind of way. Chair Kirkpatrick wisely asserted the Committee might benefit from inviting State School Superintendent Richard Woods. I would be personally interested in hearing what accommodations he provides, as my husband and I have already encountered limitations based on poor education policy set by our state.  

Next Melissa Haberlen DeWolf, Research & Policy Director, Voices for Georgia’s Children, and Wendy White Tiegreen, Director, Office of Medicaid Coordinator & Health System Innovation, Georgia DBHDD, made probably the most interesting presentation to me. Along with other partners, they joined together to form Mindworks to follow the money (a favorite pastime of mine) and asked the simple question, ‘Where is the money spent?’ Spoiler alert: the answer isn’t simple. Anything you don’t invest on the front end of a child’s life means higher spending on the latter end without earlier intervention. 

I’m going to spell that out a little more for those of you in the back: every burden you shift to Georgia parents’ shoulders instead of the government’s or community’s shoulders, gives you higher costs for incarceration and rehabilitation as those children grow. And with this recent U.S. Senate Committee hearing, we now know the state is paying money in real time for INCARCERATING CHILDREN instead of therapeutically helping them develop. FASCINATING approach. Now shifting all this to parents would be perfectly reasonable if everyone lived in lovely suburban, two-income households, close to great resources like my husband grew up. It’s not so easy if you grew up in Walton Co. in the 80s in a food desert and the local hospital didn’t keep your type of insulin, like me. I’m betting it’s even harder for the kids in trailer parks in Echols County or the apartment homes in Taliaferro. I don’t know, but I hope to hell someone’s asking them.

These aren’t individual children’s challenges; these are systematic and we must have a systems change-educational, DFCS, and medical. From my vantage point, it feels very much like my family is at the nexus of all failing systems. 

Something about an ounce of prevention vs. a pound of cure goes here. Let’s just say hypothetically a state cuts into the bone of their education funds for the sake of reducing taxes. HYPOTHETICALLY. What happens when schools have become our service delivery mechanism in our state because we have no systems built out to serve the public otherwise? We can choose to either build out more of the service delivery mechanism, or we can build private prisons. Hell, according to the justices in Senator Ossoff’s dog and pony show, we are already sending kids there!

Those justices have shown this isn’t hypothetical. I’ll ask you to consider how much money you think it’s going to take to fix that problem. 

Now double that number and give the state a decade to recover.  

Now I want you to put DFCS in the mix, and take a kid out of their home. Think of how hard it is to share information across these stretches. It took me a whole month to overcome my foster kid’s (FK’s) aversion to wearing glasses and the convincing it took to try contacts. When I got glasses at the age of 12, my mom drove me up to Winn Way in Decatur for my eye appointments and didn’t have to worry about form 3300 or the eye exam mandated by the state to inform parents their kids need glasses. She also didn’t have to provide the court with that information nor did the GAL or CASA. FYI: Court Appointed Special Advocates exist in metro Atlanta, and Guardian Ad Litems exist in GOOA. 

At this point in the meeting, Chair Kirkpatrick referenced the Executive Order by Governor Kemp to increase data-sharing. 

Timely, Madame Chair, timely. 

What the presentation didn’t say directly was that when you incarcerate Daddy instead of sending him through a diversion plan, and you leave Mom in a system where women make $.74 on every dollar Daddy made, you’ve made the family financially vulnerable in case Jr. needs braces or (in my household’s case) your family car was stolen by the neighborhood kids (twice). And this is if Dad and Mom are white. If they’re Black, Asian, Latino, or indigenous, Mom is making even less money in comparison to her white peers. 

Now I’d love to hang all problems on a deadbeat Dad or an impoverished Mom, that’d make policy simple, right? 

And not to make too fine of a point of it, but I think after Ahmaud Arbery’s trial, and the hateful recent signs praising Hitler on 75, I don’t think we can reasonably assert bigotry is dead and gone here, sadly. I’d like to hope my contemporaries in the legislature aren’t unaware of the bigotry of decision-makers that went before them in the General Assembly and courts. But I dunno. I’d love to think the court isn’t still affecting Mom and Dad’s ability to make money and afford the conveniences that enable sustaining a thriving family. In my case, my parents didn’t have the racial struggle- ours was class with the added benefit of overcoming a rural healthcare system that had few resources for their Type 1, insulin-dependent daughter, who later contracted rheumatoid arthritis in her teens. Add in that ACA didn’t exist, the cost of my monthly insurance premium exceeded my first mortgage payment, and the constant denial of coverage of my insulin pumps by Assurant made my mother pretty well versed in going before the Insurance Commission. 

These experiences are serving me well as a foster mom. 

After all, my kid was dropped off at our house on a Thursday afternoon in early September with three days of meds, a paper script for the next 30 days, and zero medical or educational records. Oh, and the previous DFCS caseworker assigned to FK resigned, so our family got a new case worker and supervisor at the same time all of these other transitions happened for us. SPLENDID! What could go wrong?!?! This might also be helpful to ask you (as my husband did to me) ‘Do you know who else only gets three days of meds upon discharge’? 


Before coming to our home, one of the meds was upped without prior authorization from Amerigroup, Georgia’s state-contracted provider of Medicaid. Because of my constant battles with insurance, I anticipated a snag, even though I didn’t know about the prior authorization until maybe 5 weeks later. I encouraged my husband to not wait until Saturday to fill the 30-day scripts. Unsurprisingly, there was a catch that began a month-long struggle of weekly extending the medication via our pharmacist on an emergency basis because the only provider list DFCS could give us was Amerigroup’s list. Every provider my husband called on that list didn’t take Amerigroup. Neither does Emory’s entire Behavioral Health Dept. 

Grady does not do youth. 

What the actual …??

Please let me point out that if DFCS had these records, they would have provided them to us. But in part because the records were not provided by the doctor(s) who saw FK AND the last caseworker didn’t input the records into FK’s file- they are currently lost and I am rebuilding them with the help of FK. FK sat down and wrote all the names and cities of the schools attended so I could provide something to APS, DFCS, and the Office of the Child Advocate. 

I have never been a caseworker, but I have now served as one in the case of housing and food stamps for church friends and now I’m trying to piece together things for FK. 

This is how the Georgia General Assembly’s cuts to the DFCS budget over time have compounded to complicate the lives of its citizens. 

I left Walton County to live in our state’s capital city, rich in medical resources, yet the saving grace for my family was not DFCS’s guidance but my knowledge of Chris 180’s services that I learned about years ago in the Junior League of Atlanta, Inc.! In case anyone reading this is unfamiliar with Chris 180, they provide a litany of services (assessments, talk therapy, psychiatry, substance abuse assistance, and so much more) both in APS schools and in a slew of offices across the state (Gainesville included). Chris 180 has helped maintain medication for children in transition and can help families maintain regular therapy schedules that include all members. 

Now you may be wondering how a kid can wind up with no health or education records. We certainly did. This may be a timely point to mention Commissioner Broce’s hotelling update during the committee….Because my foster child would more than likely have been placed in a hotel if FK had not come to our home. Knowing now that some kids are incarcerated without due process, it makes me wonder if this might have been FK’s fate and it just makes me angry. The Commissioner and DFCS took understandable and hard-fought pride in bringing those hotelling numbers down to zero, yet I have to wonder how many other Georgia families have gone through the challenges we have in the last months because of this ambition to bring kids out of hotels with no resources around them. I know some foster parents left kids at DFCS offices at this time due to the unresponsiveness of their pleas to caseworkers to place their foster kids in other homes. I now also wonder how many kids might otherwise end up imprisoned?!?! 

…And all because our state doesn’t better resource an entity that looks out for our most vulnerable? What is wrong with us, Georgia?? We may care about heartbeats, but we don’t seem to care about children outside of the womb.

I also have to wonder what happens to the other foster families, knowing that if my husband and I were in any other financial or knowledge situation, we would have given up. TBH, the nights my husband and I looked at each other before bed and said “Nothing’s wrong, I’m just overwhelmed” or “I’m sorry, I’m just drowning” were countless. 

And we have the Commissioner’s cell number.

It’s not surprising that I developed a case of COVID-19, my purse was stolen out of our home by a child and another kid swiped our rental car keys out of our kitchen. To say I was distracted at this point in my life would have been putting it mildly, dear reader. LOL. 

We laugh here to keep from crying!

Thankfully, the next group presenters are trying to make things a little softer for parents and children alike going through the foster process. Callan Wells, Senior Policy Analyst from GEEARS,  and Mitsy Feers, Research Associate, at the Center of Excellence for Children’s Behavioral Health, discussed the Georgia HRSA Thrive Infant Toddler Court Program & Safe Baby program. Georgia is one of 12 states nationwide to receive funding to implement this Ga Thrive program. There are three pilot sites across the state where this will be implemented over the next 4 years. They focus on the ages 0-3 and the neural pathways that impact mental health later in life. 

*Pause for cause*

Most (not all) people want to adopt children in this 0-3 age range because they think that adopting in this range reduces the impact of trauma, but the data doesn’t support that. This is an approach to foster and adoption that seems to focus more on the parents’ idea of fulfilling their ideal of parenthood rather than being a resource for their kids. The next Committee meeting delved more into this, and so I’ll save going into it further for later. 

*End pause*

This presentation discussed the Safe Baby Approach, which amounts to different court approaches between the current dependency court and this program. The key differences are more frequent meetings (monthly vs quarterly), more collaboration between all involved, and a trauma response approach that focuses on mental health resources rather than an adversarial experience. 

This would have been particularly helpful in FK’s case, as with the change in caseworkers, supervisors, location, and medication, no one from DFCS bothered to mention that FK had a court date following arrival in our home, even though my husband and I asked at least three times explicitly-in writing twice, and in our meeting with the previous caseworker. In our case, the initial forgotten court date meant the Office of the Child Advocate from Fulton County called my cell at 6:30 p.m. to let me know we were to appear (virtually, thankfully) the next afternoon. FK managed anxiety by staying up for the entire night working through their anxiety in anticipation of having to be in court. FK spent approximately 48 hours without sleep, all because none of the adults around our foster child had coordinated calendars. No one from DFCS showed up for this court appearance, so it was rescheduled for a couple of weeks later (see above referenced back and forth with DFCS about beginning school) and the SAAG was told that because of the regularity of DFCS missing cases like these, we may be moving to in-person appearances. 

Christ in a casket, y’all. 

If I ever show up on the news, you’ll now know why. 

I don’t think I’m alone. You see, according to this presentation, Georgia has had an increase between 2011-2014, with a 44% increase of infants and toddlers entering foster care- more than any other Southern state. This was pre-Covid. 

Imma need our state leaders to have a little comin’ to Jesus with our caseworkers, educators, public health, and behavioral health folks. Y’all need to be writing them BIG checks. BIG, YUGELY, if you don’t want to be incarcerating children and young adults out of our workforce going forward. And don’t give me this bullshit about how you can’t just throw money at the problem. While that is true, you CAN up the average salary of caseworkers, you CAN fund the building of better data-sharing systems, and you CAN fund people to coordinate all of this. 


You can also decide if you want to fund this or more prisons. Mindworks showed very clearly in all their little pie charts and neatly organized presentation that you’re gonna spend either way, so ante up on the front end or be ready to receive the painful truths on the back end. From the presentation, I learned that this pipeline contributes to a $401 Billion BILLION economic loss for our nation.

$401 BILLION. With a B.

Opioid use was referenced as a key factor for children in the 0-3 age group coming into care & they suggest opioid settlement funds be used to maintain this court. That’s consistent with other states around us. My husband coordinated a recent Masterclass on the opioid crisis for SLC in Kansas City. I’m sorry that some of y’all had to miss it because you also missed meeting a personal friend, who is an Addiction Interventionist by profession. They are in recovery, and their work and story are some of the reasons why I remain proud to call Walton County home. This amazing human can explain how hard overcoming addiction is in rural settings. Their work locally to make our hometown and surrounding areas a better place inspires me. If you have questions about addiction, or if you would like to better understand the process and challenges of recovery, give LeAnne a call- they answer all hours of the day and night. 

Similar to NCSL, HRSA’s recommendations included preventions for foster care, including familial economic support, specifically TANF reform, along with substance use treatment- family-based that allows mom & babies to stay together while in treatment, peer support specialists (in northeast GA) in NICUs, and kinship care. HRSA is for 5 years- there will be a metro location, rural as well, and prevention and intervention sites were released earlier last month to solicit nonprofit and court locations. Total HRSA funding is $5M, with each site getting $60K/ year for the next 4 years. BTW- Iowa has been doing this since 2005. 

Let’s not bring up the rear, OK, Georgia General Assembly? That’s Mississippi’s job.

During questions, Dr. Constantino highlighted the Safe Baby Court as offering steps in a tangible plan, a strategy for moving forward toward the hope of getting everyone back home and being safe. In my notes, I noted a quotation from someone saying, “Children do better when parents do better” and I couldn’t think of a better way of looking at this entirely. 

The next meeting was of Child Kind, which specifically deals with medically fragile children. Karl Lehman asserted that 35-45% of kids in foster care could have been prevented from entering into care if they had familial support. It seems Child Kind has a take charge program that is designed to address support for families that are in danger of being placed into foster care. They are referred to Child Kind from CHOA. 

They then place a social worker and nurse in the home to determine the following measures:

  1. Child bonding- Does that parent understand their connection to that child?
  2. Child well-being- Does that parent understand the wholeness of the diagnosis?
  3. Parent sustainability- How likely is this parent to sustain themselves after/ outside of the program?
  4. Family sustainability- they may be their own case manager and care coordinator. Can they teach others in their shoes? 

The last point speaks to capacity building which is a systems approach- BRAVO! Like the Safe Baby Approach, this approach understandably is expanding a knowledge base rather than concentrating it at the agency level. They are Community-Based HRSA-funded and have been in business since 1989. Mr. Lehman stated they did some analysis in 2015, and reported seeing a decrease in Medicaid claims and hospitalization for families in the program. Less money AND less dire medical results?!? Someone get that man a bigger budget and more help!

The next presentation, from Carrie Nellie of Abiding Love Adoptions, was an interesting one. Ms. Nellie was very passionate and although her presentation focused on adoption (which was the topic for the next committee meeting) I was grateful she shared so much. She repeatedly mentioned Utah, which resonated with our household. FK has made trips to Utah and could speak directly to some of the experiences the attorney referenced, even though Ms. Nellie spoke about birth moms and FK related as an adopted child. To me, this highlighted a cycle of this state’s involvement in the adoptive cycle. It makes me wonder if there are states that market their programs to adoptive families. I don’t have enough information at this point to form an opinion, but I mention it here to highlight on both the parent and child end, that Utah is a state that has more direct involvement in this system than others. 

Ms. Nellie discussed violations of adoptions by out-of-state vendors who prey on Georgia moms. She specifically asked the Georgia General Assembly to codify a four-day revocation period as a part of an enforceable post-adoption agreement. She referenced a story about a birth mom who was pressured into adoption under the threat she would be reported to ICE. This resonated with me because I know of a person here in Georgia who previously adopted two children out of foster care whose mother was turned into ICE after the mother called and reported the rape of her child to the cops. I’m not sure if the rapist was brought to justice, but the mom was taken into custody, and her children were placed into foster care. The children were both adopted by the foster parent, and the pregnant child gave birth to a healthy baby.

No one in Georgia needed to go all the way to Texas to fear ICE. I vaguely remember our Governor referencing his truck “to pick up illegals” in ads during the campaign season. Wonder if anyone other than me thought of that during Ms. Nellie’s presentation. IDK.

I appreciated Ms. Nellie’s other suggestions: 

  • Codify regulation 299-2-.02 in the DHS rules and regulations
  • Require agencies to register- she felt this requirement “will give it more teeth”
  • Referenced 19-8-16, 19-85 is often confused for a home study

Effectively, she said the petition is to be verified but offered that a better practice is to require a birth mother’s narrative to be a part of the ICPC packet this will let us know if an out-of-state agency has been involved illegally. Ideally, this will identify how the birth mother and adoptive parents have been connected. Additionally, this report should say the birth mother is of sound mind and should detail the birth mother’s expenses. Ms. Nellie also recommended an enforceable post-adoption contact sheet and she suggested Ga be an agency-only adoption state. She suggested clarification of language regarding “child placing agency” OCGA 19-8-24 sub-section A1 and A2 a “Georgia licensed child-placing agency”. The specific language she suggests against waiving birth mother’s rights under Georgia law. She says agencies want birth mothers to do this, but she doesn’t recommend this. Instead, she would like to give more power to the Attorney General’s office and the solicitor general’s office.

The next presentation was by Susan Worsley, ED of North Georgia Angel House in Canton. Among other things, she advocated for a state ID to reduce barriers to entry for work. She also helpfully pointed out that states like Arizona and Texas are already using state-issued IDs for children. From my brief searches, it appears that Arizona has no age restriction on who can get a state ID versus issuing state IDs for foster children (which was how I interpreted the suggestion when I first heard this). I can see this as helpful in so much as there is regular updating of these records.  I could see a system much like GRITS (the database all immunization records are kept for children in GA’s schools) being maintained that would reduce barriers to education, medical, and work records. But that’s if and only if those records are maintained. If those records and IDs are similar to FK’s, I don’t have much faith that a state-issued ID would help much. My husband’s little tin foil hat was also dinging at this point about how safe the personal data of Georgia’s children would be.

A question was posed about how a healthcare provider could help with the ID and with Medicaid. She said it would help with both. She said most kids don’t come with a Medicaid number and fewer know their insurance number. This is 100% true. A packet is provided to foster parents and a placement letter. Effectively, this letter is supposed to have this information in it, but may not always. I’ve also received children without a letter of placement. A state ID could streamline the vital records process to identify kids in the system here and if they’re coming from other states, it could help streamline those processes as well. 

My question to lawmakers reading this would be, why stop with foster kids? 

Much like the Drivers License system helps update voter registration, a state ID for all children (whether they drive or not or are in foster care or not) would remove a barrier to entry for jobs and could be a means of tying medical and educational records to the child. I’m not opposed to this suggestion, I’d just like to see this be accompanied by strict protocol on data security. 

The last presentations that day were from a very passionate advocate, Together with Families- ED, Sarah Winograd-Babayeuski, and folks around her nonprofit. Her presentation largely focused on her experience as a CASA and finding that many families are entered into foster care bc of poverty rather than neglect or abuse. She aptly compared her experience as a missionary’s kid in the Eastern Bloc to what she’s finding in the metro area. She’s not wrong. I’ve served as a CASA and I have several children in my neighborhood who have been or currently are in foster care. I know the stories of the kids around me. Their placement into foster care is more a lack of access to necessary financial, medical, or mental health support bc their families don’t have a car or their shift jobs can’t maintain both their childcare and adequate living standards. Most of Georgia is set up to function effectively only if you are able-bodied, fully mentally capable, physically fit enough to walk long distances or stand in long lines, and have fast internet access. 

We don’t build cities here to walk or encourage economic development that fosters family and community, sadly. And in most of Georgia, if you don’t have a car, you’re SOL. 

Effectively, I would assert that if anyone can walk away from these committee meetings and not recognize poverty as the biggest indicator of whether or not a child will be placed into foster care, I will respectfully say they should not be on this committee. 

So I have to ask, what are we going to do differently now, Georgia?

Whether it’s Governor Kemp’s right-hand woman or Senator Jon Ossoff’s Senate Committee taking up this issue, we need change. While I am grateful the Governor and Senator find foster care and adoption to be an interesting policy topic, I don’t want these children and the systems that impact them to be just another political football. That’s what it feels like currently on both sides. The denial/ nondenial of Commissioner Broce in George’s piece sounds a LOT like covering for a lot of other people through legalese, verging on breaking the law. 

Gentlemen, you don’t get to pick up and play with our lives today to score a Senate seat and then do nothing after the election. My family and my neighborhood deserve better. I know DFCS employees do as well. I can’t speak for the Commissioner, but I can say I’m personally not interested in picking up after the mess you’ve both left by not dealing with this until now. 

It is not too much to ask that Governor Kemp and Senator Ossoff work TOGETHER to get more funding for Georgia’s children to make meaningful changes so fewer kids will come to homes like mine without records and no child will be imprisoned because they have no place to lay their head. The National Institute of Mental Health (a division of the National Institute of Health) provides grants and funded research opportunities. Why don’t y’all take a page from Jack Kingston (before he went off the deep end) and bring home some funding for research into the trauma and mental health support of children here in Georgia? Do you want to put Georgia on the map? Make it a model state for the rest of the nation.

Instead of pointing fingers, why don’t you all start with these?

  • Connect federal funding to our HBCUs and university systems to analyze areas of mental health support and their effects on the family. Measure it, analyze the cost-benefit ratio if you need to, and then regularly allocate money to support families that are on the edge. Do this, and I’m betting you’ll need fewer prisons or foster homes. 
  • Federally fund and investigate the economic impact of parental leave. (Hint: it grows economies.) Compare rural and urban areas in Georgia. KY’s already done this
  • Create an entity similar to Virginia’s Commission On Youth that has a direct connection to the General Assembly and direct oversight over DFCS. 
  • Invest in and fund regular maintenance and updates of online systems that enable records to follow the child. SMILES and GRITS could use an update.
  • Invest in and fund regular maintenance updates of an online system that incorporates Juvenile Justice records into the aforementioned systems. Siloing these systems isn’t helpful. 

The question for me is, who will keep up the fight for Georgia’s children after the election?

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