ATLANTA — The Georgia State Senate passed a measure that allows for child welfare services to be bid upon through contracts with community based providers, both public and private.
Senate Bill 350 passed by a 31-18 margin.
“I am pleased by the passage of Senate Bill 350 746 today,” state Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, said in a statement. “Private-public partnerships are critical to ensuring the welfare of Georgia’s children, especially those in foster care. This legislation will provide a greater level of local support to Georgia’s children and families while also improving access to resources, services and support.”
During the fall, extensive public hearings were held on Senate Bill 350 as part of Lt. Governor Casey Cagle’s Foster Care Reform Initiative Working Group. Under this legislation, the Georgia Department of Children and Family Services is required to contract out several of its key services, including foster care, adoption and case management to either private or public providers.
If passed into law, the Division of Child and Family Services (DFCS) will be responsible for submitting a proposal to the Governor to competitively bid for the administration of child welfare services through fixed price contracts with designated state agencies. This plan will require the coordination of state and local communities and must include adults who were previously a part of Georgia’s foster care system.
The statewide plan must be submitted to the Governor prior to January 1, 2015 and will be phased-in slowly over a two-year period. In order for the plan to receive federal financing and become fully implemented in Georgia, DFCS must secure a federal waiver from the federal Administration for Children and Families no later than April 1.
Under this bill, DFCS will be responsible for setting the standards for the competitive bidding process and maintaining a high standard of quality assurance and monitoring for all contracted programs and services. Additionally, DFCS cannot transfer services until the particular entity responsible for administering the program or services is fully prepared to assume responsibility.
SB 350 will now transfer to the Georgia House of Representatives for consideration.