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Friday, May 26, 2017

NOTES FROM THE SENATE, MAY 26, 2017

INVESTING IN GEORGIA'S MOST VULNERABLE POPULATION

Last week's column focused on meeting the needs of Georgia's children, senior citizens and our disabled population. The FY 2018 General Budget appropriated around $123 million towards protecting and enhancing the quality of life of our most vulnerable citizens. This week, the column is about where these funds were targeted. Most are not Medicaid funds but may be matched with federal funds.

FUNDING FOCUSED ON CHILDREN

Adds funds to set compensation of Special Attorneys General representing children for DFCS and foster children to $57.50 per hour.

$100,000 one-time funding for a study on reducing maternal mortality utilizing outcomes based research

$5.5 Million for the Department of Early Care and Learning (DCAL) for tiered reimbursement for Quality Rated childcare providers

$31.0 million to fund a pay raise of 19% for DFCS child welfare workers

$3.9 Million to Child Welfare Services (DFCS) for additional employees for foster care support services

$2.5 Million to DFCS for 27 additional employees to fully implement the supervisory-mentor program.

$500,000 to CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) for court representation of foster children by volunteers

$10.9 Million to implement DFCS Integrated Eligibility System information technology project

$2.5 Million for DFCS for additional human resources employees

$12.5 Million in state and Federal funds to increase the foster parent per diem rate by $10.

$14.9 Million of first year plan to increase relative foster care providers per diem rates by $10

$6.1 Million in state and federal funds for first year of plan increasing Child Placing Agencies foster parent per diem rates by $10.

Utilize existing funding GA. Student Finance Commission to continue a pilot program for the REACH Scholarship for youth in foster care.

$2.0 Million for the Families First COACHES Program to assist foster care children to transition from secondary school to the workplace requiring a report July 1, 2018.

$20.1 million for growth of out-of-home care (foster children)

FUNDING TO HELP SENIORS

$4.1 Million for the Georgia Alzheimer's Project for a statewide early diagnosis program and calls for a report, July 1, 2018

$766,000 for the Department of Human Services to add 11 Adult Protective Services Supervisors

$4.2 Million for DHS Elder Community Living Services for 1,000 additional Non-Medicaid Home and Community Based services

$750,000 for DHS Elder Community Living Services for meal services

$80,067 transferred from DBHDD Administration to Alzheimer's Supportive Services Program

$93,205 transferred from DBHDD Administration for a Forensic Specialist for Elder Abuse Investigations

$5,795 to increase hourly rate to $57.50 for Special Assistant Attorneys General (SAAGs) who prosecute elder abuse cases


FUNDING FOR THE DISABLED

$12.1 Million to annualize the cost of 250 new New Options Waivers (NOW) and Comprehensive Supports Waiver Program (COMP) Slots for adults needing 24-hour care

$11.7 Million to annualize the cost of a provider rate increase for COMP waiver

$6.0 Million to fund 250 new slots for NOW and COMP Waivers

$1.0 Million to annualize the cost of 100 NOW slots for home-based services for disabled adults

$7.7 Million for mental health consumers in community settings (DOJ Agreement) for supported housing

$6.0 Million to fund one Behavioral Health Crisis Center

$2.2 Million to replace the loss of Balancing Incentive Payment Program (BIPP) assisting with non-institutional housing

$325,000 to Department of Public Health to improve the transition from adolescent to adult for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Human needs can sometimes seem less glitzy than buildings or new initiatives, but there comes a time in state spending to meet high priority needs of people. The increase of $123 million, while only four-tenths of one percent of the state budget, could have a huge impact on the safety and health of these citizens.

The FY 2018 budget (H.B. 44) may be found at http://www.senate.ga.gov/sbeo/en-US/AppropriationsDocuments.aspx. As always, I welcome any questions you may have.

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