Local

Child Welfare Council Holds First Meeting

Privatizing Georgia’s child welfare system was a big issue during this year’s legislative session.As heard on the radio

The bill fell apart after Governor Nathan Deal announced plans for a Child Welfare Reform Council to come up with its own changes.

The council, which held its first meeting Wednesday afternoon, is scheduled to meet several times through the end of the year in the lead up to next year’s legislative session.

They’ve been asked to make recommendations on how to improve the child welfare system, including how the state should manages adoptions, family reunification and foster care.

Gov. Nathan Deal, who made a brief appearance at the meeting, said the committee’s suggestions will likely influence legislation that could be introduced next year.

“In this way, we can take concrete steps forward, and I believe we will have an opportunity to take care – and better care – of our vulnerable children,” Deal said.

The governor has already announced plans for a pilot program to privatize the state system, a topic likely to be further discussed by the 20-member council.  

The group includes members of the state general assembly, judges and nonprofit leaders but does not include anyone from the Department of Family and Children services, which oversees the child welfare system.

“That was by intent,” said Council Chair Stephanie Blank, “because sometimes to come up with the better and the more right solution, you do kind of have to throw out old assumptions and look at it with fresh eyes.”

Blank, however, says the council will work with DFCS as it begins to craft reforms.