Patch Staff Report
Gov. Nathan Deal
announced on Thursday the creation of the Child Welfare Reform Council to
improve the state's child welfare system and better protect Georgia’s most
Modeled after the successful Criminal Justice
Reform Council, the council will complete a comprehensive review of the
Division of Family and Children Services and advise the governor on
possible executive agency reforms and legislative fixes if necessary.
The news came as Gold Dome lawmakers in the House and Senate have conflicting views over whether to privatize child welfare services. House leaders are pushing for a scaled-back, two-year pilot in select areas to test
privatization. Conversely, Senate
leaders want the state in 2017 to begin bidding out all child welfare services.
While it's unknown what this means for the proposed legislation, Deal reiterated Friday that he wants a slower approach. According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Deal said, “This is an area that does need the same kind of scrutiny. Bringing together people who are knowledgeable, people who are interested in the issue, to try to get their ideas and suggestions in the event there needs to be further legislation on the subject.”
Stephanie Blank, a longtime champion of children and education, will chair the council and will work in conjunction with the Governor’s Office and the Department of Human Services. A complete list of council members will be announced in the coming weeks.
meeting with numerous stakeholders including former foster youth,
juvenile court judges, providers and child advocates, it was clear there
was a need for a more deliberate reform process of the child welfare
system,” Deal said in Thursday's press release.
“We have no greater responsibility than caring for our most vulnerable populations. If we do nothing else, we must always do everything in our power to assure that our children are safe and that they get their best shot at a good life. I am confident this council will produce meaningful and thoughtful reform recommendations.”Blank serves on the Georgia State Advisory Council on Early Childhood Education and Care established by Gov. Nathan Deal, the Children’s Healthcare Of Atlanta System Board and First Lady Sandra Deal’s Children’s Cabinet.