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Friday, April 26, 2019

NOTES FROM THE SENATE, APRIL 26, 2019

LEGISLATURE CONTINUES ATTENTION TO CHILDREN'S ISSUES

Both the state and federal governments have paid a lot of attention to issues affecting children and their care over the past few years and the 2019 Session continued that trend. Last year, the federal Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) passed Congress following Georgia's passage in 2018 of SB 225.

This legislation addressed many issues affecting foster children in specialized settings and treatment and oversight involving the child's biological family as well as professionals such as teachers, health care providers, clergy and others who are resources. FFPSA legislation focuses on residential treatment programs as well as family foster care.

Of course, there are many other issues affecting the lives of children including child protection, health, mental health, autism, dyslexia, disabilities and many others.

LEGISLATION AFFECTING CHILDREN

--HB 530-Requires the State Department of Education to furnish each school system with a parent's declaration of intent to home school. If a school does not record a child's attendance in 45 days and has not received a parent's declaration, DFCS will be notified and an assessment will be conducted.
--HB 478-Made changes to the Child Abuse Registry, including raising the age for which a person could be reported on the registry as a child abuser from 13 years of age to 18.
HB 472-Makes revisions to the Juvenile Code, including providing for temporary alternatives to foster care. Also requires training for Juvenile Court intake officers exercising authority to remove a child.
--HB 543-Under this bill, a person, other than a relative, can be adjudicated as an equitable caregiver and the court will establish parental rights and responsibilities for that person including custody or visitation.
--SB 158-The Anti-Human Trafficking Protective Response Act-Makes changes to the law providing more protection for children who are victims. Provides for DFCS care up to 7 days without a court order. Requires law enforcement to refer a child suspected of being a victim to a victim assistance organization. Changes prostitution to apply only to young people over 18. Also revises a charge of pimping and pandering and requires a 10-30 year sentence and $100,000 fine where children are involved.
--HB70-Cleans up various Code sections related to guardianships and conservatorships for minors and adults
--HB 228-Raises the legal age to get married to 17 years of age. Restricts the age of the other partner to no more than 4 years older. Requires the court to emancipate the 17 year old for the purpose of marriage.
--SB 48-allows for schools to screen students K-2 for dyslexia and other related disorders.
--HB 12-Requires schools to post a sign a sign containing the phone number for DFCS to report child abuse or neglect
--HB 83-Requires schools to provide recess for K-5 students preferably outdoors.

BUDGET ITEMS AFFECTING CHILDREN

--$500,000 additional funding to the Department of Early Care and Learning for Childcare and Parent Services program to provide assistance to low-income families for the cost of childcare
--$100,000 to the Department of Education for a two-year pilot to study the effectiveness of early reading assistance for at-risk students with dyslexia
--$1.0 million to Department of Education for grants to schools for feminine hygiene products for low-income students
--$1 million transferred to the Department of Education for additional high school counselors and programs for Title I schools
--$2.6 million to DHS Out of Home Care to increase DFCS relative caregiver per diem by $1
--$500,000 total funds to Ga. Vocational Rehabilitation for Academic Transition Teachers for the IPSE college program for disabled students
--$171,000 to the Department of Law for 4 positions to create a Human Trafficking Unit starting January 1, 2020
--$1.5 million to DBH/DD to annualize the cost of supported employment and education services for 500 young adults
--$513,000 to the Department of Community Health to serve medically fragile children through the Champions for Children program of Easter Seals
--$27.3 million to Department of Community Health to replace the federal funds match decrease for PeachCare for Kids health Insurance program
--$299,000 to the Department of Education for camp personnel and operations and $83,000 for local law enforcement to provide additional security at youth camps when children are present
-- $867,000 to DHS Child Welfare Services--to replace federal funds to continue child care placement for priority families
--$503,000 total funds for new quality assurance and ongoing monitoring of child welfare support services providers
--$250,000 additional funding for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) to represent foster children in court
--$2.3 million for the Department of Public Health for newborn screening to include 4 additional disorders approved by the screening advisory committee
--$747,000 to the Board of Regents for local law enforcement security at 4 H facilities when students are present

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