State House Committee Looks To Cut Red Tape For Child Welfare Providers

A Georgia House committee is considering how the state could cut some red tape surrounding the licensing and inspection of child welfare providers.As heard on the radio

Under a House resolution approved during the last legislative session, the Child Welfare Providers Study Committee, which met for the first time Monday, is tasked with reviewing existing regulations to find areas that are either duplicative or overly burdensome.

“We have a high demand, a high supply of children that need childcare provisions,” said Rep. Andy Welch (R-McDonough), who chairs the committee. “However we’re also struggling with finding enough foster care parents. We’re also looking to find enough childcare institutions to accompany those children.”

Welch said the ultimate goal of the committee is to create incentives for more private organizations to sign on as child welfare providers so the state can meet that demand.

To do that, he said the law probably needs to be a little more flexible for those trying to become providers and for those who already are.

“The amount of oversight – and what appears to be duplicative oversight – creates a barrier for folks to get into providing some protections and shelter and permanency for children,” he said. “I think it also, for those that already in the business of providing for children, this level of regulation and implementation and the practices at the ground level, the field level, become burdensome.”

Ron Scroggy, a former Division of Children and Family Services director who now heads Together Georgia, a nonprofit that represents more than 150 state child welfare providers, said currently many of the state’s child welfare agencies go through a federal accreditation and a state licensure process with almost no overlap.

Two different offices, both under the Department of Human Services, then conduct regular inspections.

Scroggy said that’s a drain on an agency’s resources.

“You’ve got staff that are having to pull records, they’re having to pull policies,” he said. “They’re having to accommodate and work with these inspectors, and that’s time when they could be spending supervising, managing, overseeing their programs.”

Scroggy and Welch said they see a way to make the process less complicated – while still providing a high standard of care for children.

The House committee will meet again later this month, and up to the legislative session.