Gov. Nathan Deal today signed into law Senate Bill 138, legislation that improves communication within and among child welfare groups, such as state agencies and foster parents.
“There is perhaps nothing more harmful to a child than an abusive father or a neglectful mother,” Deal said. “But if there was, it would be a community that watched in silent disapproval, doing nothing. Georgia is doing something.”
The new law codifies an executive order giving the director of the Division of Family and Children Services a more direct line to the governor, while also creating district- and state-level advisory boards that will facilitate rulemaking and delivery of services within DFCS. The legislation further grants foster parents and other care providers access to appropriate medical and educational records, allowing them to better serve in their roles, and it supports the sharing of relevant data between agencies to give caseworkers a more complete picture of a child’s or family’s interaction with the state.
In addition, SB 138 re-establishes the Child Abuse Registry, which will handle cases with sufficient evidence indicating that abuse has occurred, while meeting the constitutional requirements of due process.
This legislation supplements Georgia’s other recent work in this area, which includes adding over 450 caseworkers in two years and funding several recommendations by the Child Welfare Reform Council.
“When we help improve the safety, capabilities and morale of our caseworkers and foster parents, we directly elevate the services provided to our children in need,” Deal said.