Barton Child Law and Policy Center Newsletter
Dear Child Advocates, this update contains:
Georgia Capitol Update
Bills of Interest to Child Advocates
Follow Us on Twitter!
Next Georgia Child Welfare Legal Academy February 15
Georgia Capitol Update

Last week the General Assembly was formally in adjournment, but held joint budget hearings all week.  They focused on the governor's proposed amended budget for Fiscal Year 2011 , but gave some consideration to Fiscal Year 2012 as well.   Some highlights of those hearing are:

  • Department of Juvenile Justice Commissioner Amy Howell stated that her department will not be able to acheive budget targets without some reform of the law.  In particular, the department will be looking for reform of the designated felony provisions of the juvenile code to allow more flexibility for earlier release from secure confinement when a child is not a danger to the community.
  • The Department of Human Services Budget continues to be cut, and Commission Clyde Reese stressed the need to preserve federal funding for critical services through the continuing to meet "maintenance of effort" or "MOE" requirements set by federal law.  Under these requirements, if the state does not spend a certain amount in state dollars on programs that require a partial state match, we can lose eligibility for federal funds. 
  • The Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities budget is one of the only Departmental budgets actually increasing this year.  Commissioner Frank Shelp pointed out that this is due to two federal settlement agreements that the state has entered into that require us to move people with developmental disabilities and other mental health needs out of institutions and into services in the community.

This week the General Assembly has reconvened.  Budget discussions with move to House Appropriation Subcommittees.  The other standing committees will also start meeting, but most of their focus will be on committee organization and rules this week.  Some meetings of interest to child advocates this week include:

  • The Georgia Child Advocacy Network (Georgia CAN) will meet Tuesday, January 25 at 10:30 in room 310 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Buildling.
  • The House Children and Youth Committee will meet Tuesday, January 25 at 2pm in room 403 of the Capitol. The Committee will hear presentations from Family Connection Partnership and Voices for Georgia's Children.
  • The House Appropriations Human Resources Subcommittee will meet on Wednesday, January 26 at 2pm in room 606 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Building. As part of the agenda, they plan to discuss the Department of Human Services budget from 3-4pm.
  • The House Appropriations General Subcommittee will meet on Thursday, January 27 at 1:30pm in room 514 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Building.  As part of their agenda, they will review the budget for the Governors Office and attached agencies, which includes the Office of the Child Advocate and the Governor's Office for Children and Families.
  • The House Appropriations Human Resources Subcommittee will meet on Thursday, January 27 at 2pm in room 606 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Building. As part of the agenda, they plan to discuss the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilties budget from 3-4pm. 


Bills of Interest to Child Advocates


HB 23, the Foster Children's Psychotropic Medication Monitoring Act, was introduced by Representative Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur) on January 24, 2011. This bill aims seeks to create procedures to ensure that the psychotropic medication administered to children in foster care is appropriate, delivered with informed consent of the parent, and the child if the child is 14 or over, and is monitored for side effects and continued efficacy.  The bill would also require the Department of Human Services to keep records of the medications and other therapies received or recommended for a child. HB 23 was referred to the House Health and Human Services Committee.



Follow us on Twitter


For the first time this year, the Barton Center will be twittering information relevant to child advocacy at the Capitol.  Follow us  at @bartoncenter at to get up-to-the-minute information on topics such as:

  • Times, dates, and locations of advocacy meetings and legislative hearings;
  • Status of juvenile court-related legislation;
  • Action alerts for important pro-child initiatives; and
  • News and research on best practices for children's law.

Begin following us by clicking on the Twitter icon to the right!  Follow us on Twitter 


Next Georgia Child Welfare Legal Academy 
Square-Peg Teens in Round-Hole Families & Facilities: Let's Stop The Insanity 


The next Georgia Child Welfare Legal Academy is scheduled for Tuesday February 15, 2011 from 1:00 until 3:15 p.m. in the Tull Auditorium on the third floor of Gambrell Hall at Emory University School of Law.  Guest speaker Pat O'Brien of You Gotta Believe! will deliver a presentation entitled "Square-Peg Teens in Round-Hole Families & Facilities: Let's Stop the Insanity."  Mr. O'Brien will make the case that we must stop the practice of placing square-pegs in round-holes and recruit permanent square-peg parents for every square-peg teen due to be discharged from the foster care system.  Mr. O'Brien will also offer concrete ideas about how anyone who knows a teen in foster care can be instrumental in helping recruit a permanent parent for that teen before the teen's discharge from the foster care system.

Pat O'Brien is the Founder & Executive Director of You Gotta Believe! The Older Child Adoption & Permanency Movement, Inc. You Gotta Believe! is one of the few placement agencies in the country that limits its practice to finding permanent parents who will legally or morally adopt teens, pre-teens, or young adults in foster care.  Mr. O'Brien offers keynotes, trainings, workshops, and consulting across the country and also produces, and often hosts, You Gotta Believe!'s weekly cable access television show and radio forum.  Mr. O'Brien has his Master of Science degree in Social Work from Columbia University School of Social Work.   


Registration: Seating is limited. Advanced registration is strongly encouraged at  The registration fee for all participants is $10 and includes materials, parking in the hospital visitor parking deck, and light refreshments.  For registration information, contact Sherry McPeeks at 404.712.4643 or  








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