(The Center Square) — A Georgia Senate study committee will explore possible solutions to improve the state’s maligned foster care system.
The move follows reports of widespread, systemic breakdowns within Georgia’s foster care system and questions about the agency’s ability to ensure the safety of the children it is tasked with protecting.
The state Senate approved the Senate Study Committee on Foster Care and Adoption with Senate Resolution 282 during this year’s legislative session. The eight-member committee, chaired by state Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, R-Marietta, will make recommendations for lawmakers to consider when the legislature reconvenes in January.
“The study committee will discuss the lack of funding, safety and ways to implement much-needed reform,” state Sen. Kim Jackson, D-Stone Mountain, said in a statement. “The state has an obligation to ensure that all children in foster care have access to quality care and that all families interested in adopting have the resources they need to make a difference in the lives of children.”
In February, U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff launched an inquiry into reports that Georgia officials have failed the children in their care. Ossoff, D-Georgia, and U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee, sent a letter to Candice Broce, commissioner of the Department of Human Services and director of the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services, demanding information about the agency’s ability to protect children.
The lawmakers, citing media reports and an Office of the Child Advocate investigation, revealed that caseworkers did not properly respond to cases of child abuse and placement services for human trafficking, sexual abuse and physical abuse victims were often “inadequate” or “inappropriate.” The lawmakers also revealed that the state spent $28 million last year to house children in hotels, sometimes for months.
The study committee will announce its meeting dates and locations later. Roughly 11,000 Georgia children are in foster care on any given day.
A spokesperson for Ossoff did not respond to a request for more information about the status of the inquiry.
By T.A. DeFeo | The Center Square contributor