Barton Child Law and Policy Center Newsletter
Dear Child Advocates, this update contains:
Georgia Capitol Update
Bills of Interest to Child Advocates
JUSTGeorgia/CASA Day at the Capitol
Complimentary CLE: Bringing Youth Justice to Georgia
Next Georgia Child Welfare Legal Academy February 15
Follow Us on Twitter!
Georgia Capitol Update

Last week the General Assembly met for four legislative days.  Committees held organizational meetings, and the House and Senate appropriations subcommittees continued review of the Governor's proposed amended budget for Fiscal Year 2011  and new budget for Fiscal Year 2012.   For analysis of the proposed budget, see the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute's excellent overview and human services highlights reports.

In both the House Appropriations Human Resources Subcommittee and the General Appropriations Subcommittee, a number of questions were asked regarding the governor's recommended transfer of funding for a number of human services programs, including Family Connection Partnership, from the Department of Human Services to the Governor's Office for Children and Families.  Answers from agency representatives focused on efficiencies that could be created by the transfers, but legislators expressed a need for more information about the potential impact of the transfers on valuable programs.   

This week the General Assembly will be meeting from Monday through Thursday.  Budget discussions will continue, and other committees will begin consideration of legislation assigned to them.  Some meetings and events of interest to child advocates this week include:

  • A Lobby Day to educate legislators about the commercial exploitation of children will occur on Tuesday, February 1.  For more information, see the We Urge You Campaign website.
  • The Georgia Child Advocacy Network (Georgia CAN) will meet Tuesday, February 1 at 10:30 in room 310 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Buildling.
  • The House Children and Youth Committee will meet Tuesday, February 1 at 2pm in room 403 of the Capitol. The Committee will hear presentations regarding education and HOPE scholarships.

Please note that information on meetings and legislative hearings is current as of Monday, January 31, 2011.  Hearing times change frequently during the session, so you may want to check the Georgia General Assembly or other organizations' web sites for the any changes. 


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 requires the Department of Human Services 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.


HB 65 was introduced by Representative Tom McCall (R-Elberton) on January 26, 2011. This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 19-8-23 to expand the categories of people who can access adoption records and the information they can access.  Specifically, it would add the child or sibling of an adopted party to the parties of interest in an adoption who can access medical information on the adopted person or biological parents, and clarify that health history is part of the information they are entitled to access.


SB 13 was introduced by Senator Lester Jackson (D-Savannah) on January 26, 2011.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 40-6-391 to make driving under the influence with a child under the age of 16 in the car a felony carrying fines of $1,000 - $5,000 and imprisonment of 1-3 years.


SB 14 was introduced by Senator Lester Jackson (D-Savannah) on January 26, 2011.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 20-2-690.1 to raise the age through which children are required to be in school from 16 to 17 years of age. 

JUSTGeorgia / CASA Day at the Capitol, February 8


JUSTGeorgia will be join with CASA programs from across the state for a Day at the Capitol on Tuesday, February 8, 2011.  The day will begin in the Floyd room of the Sloppy Floyd Building, 2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, 20th Floor of the West Tower at 9:30am with a legislative briefing, then proceed to a group photo with Governor Deal at 10:45am on the North Wing interior stairs of the Capitol.  JUSTGeorgia Coalition members and CASA volunteers are then encouraged to meet with their legislators and invite them to a luncheon from 11:45am to 1pm back in the Floyd room. 

Register to attend by contacting JUSTGeorgia Project Manager Julia Neighbors at or 404-521-0311.



Complimentary CLE: Bringing Youth Justice to Georgia, February 11


As part of the ABA Midyear Meeting, the Criminal Justice Section is offering a free CLE called "Bringing Youth Justice to Georgia."  Panelists will provide a thought-provoking discussion on Georgia's initiative to improve the juvenile court process and outcomes for court-involved youth.  Come hear about the status of the juvenile code rewrite, the Effective School Discipline project, and Clayton County's Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative.  The session will be held at the Marriott Marquis in Atlanta, in room M202 on the Marquis Level, from 12:30pm to 2pm on February 11, 2011.  To attend, please RSVP to  



Georgia Child Welfare Legal Academy Next Week
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  




Follow us on Twitter


The Barton Center is 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.

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