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
Youth Related Programs at the ABA Conference in Atlanta
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.  Budget discussions continued, and committees began consideration of legislation assigned to them.   No significant action was taken on any child welfare or juvenile justice legislation. 

This week the General Assembly will be meeting Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  Some meetings and events of interest to child advocates this week include:

  • JUSTGeorgia / CASA Day at the Capitol will be held Tuesday, February 8, 2011.  The day will begin at the Freight Depot at 9:30am with a Legislative Briefing.  See separate section below for more details.
  • The Georgia Child Advocacy Network (Georgia CAN) will meet Tuesday, February 8 at 10:30 in room 310 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Building.
  • The House Children and Youth Committee will meet Tuesday, February 8 at 2pm in room 403 of the Capitol. The Committee will hear a presentation from Commissioner Clyde Reese of the Department of Human Services on DFCS and foster care.

Please note that information on meetings and legislative hearings is current as of Monday, February 7, 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 has been 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. HB 65 has been referred to the House Civil Judiciary Committee.


HR 9 was introduced by Representative Roger Bruce (D-Atlanta) on February 1, 2011.  This resolution would create a joint study committee to look into the causes and effects of teen violence.  The joint study committee would be comprised of six appointed members and would issue a report including possible legislative recommendations by January 9, 2012. 


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 13 has been referrred to the Senate Special Judiciary Committee.


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.  SB 14 has been referred to the Senate Education and Youth Committee.


SB 31 was introduced by Senator Jason Carter (D-Decatur) on January 31, 2011.  This bill would expand the attorney-client privilege under O.C.G.A. 24-9-21 to cover parents' participation in private conversations with defense attorneys representing their children in delinquent or criminal cases.  SB 31 has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and assigned to the Crosby Subcommittee.

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.



Youth Related Programs at the ABA Meeting in Atlanta this Week


Bullying and Bias: How the ABA Can Join the National Response

The ABA would like to help improve laws, policies, and programs to better protect children from the harm of bullying, cyber-bulling, and youth behavior motivated by bias and hate.  This program will bring together experts to discuss legal implications of a 2010 survey of 40,000 high school students, where 47% reported being victims of bullying within the year, while 50% admitted to having bullied.  Panelists will also explore how lawyers and the organized bar can work with their communities to promote effective, constitutional laws and policies -- without over-criminalizing this behavior or restricting First Amendment rights -- as well as how the Bar can best aid responses to cyberbullying, youth on-youth physical and sexual harassment, hate crimes committed by and against juveniles, and bias related teen suicides.  This session will be held at the Marriott Marquis in Atlanta, in room L405-406 on the Lobby Level, from 10:30am to noon on Friday, February 11, 2011. 

Free CLE: Bringing Youth Justice to Georgia

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 Friday, February 11, 2011.  To attend, please RSVP to  

A Proven Response for Teens in Trouble: Creating and Sustaining Quality Youth Courts

Youth courts, also known as teen courts, are specialized diversion programs for juveniles sentenced by their peers, serving more than 125,000 youth each year in more than 1,000 community-based programs nationwide.   But there is room for growth and even greater success for at-risk youth, the community, and the economy.  A panel of experts will present practical strategies for establishing and expanding these restorative justice programs in their vital role in the continuum of quality justice services for youth.  The program will identify best practices that youth court leaders and community volunteers employ to reach public safety goals and create positive results for youth and their families.  Attendees will receive information on: how youth courts divert youth from traditional justice processing; developing an early and informed appreciation for the legal system; building relationships between the community and the court system; promoting civic engagement/volunteerism in a generation of youth; and the role of attorneys and law students in the success of youth courts. This session will be held at the Marriott Marquis in Atlanta, in room L405-406 on the Lobby Level, from 2:15pm to 3:45pm on Friday February 11, 2011. 

Open Meeting of the ABA Commission on Youth at Risk

Come for breaksfast and to hear about Commission work on youth transitioning from foster care, truancy / dropout law and policy reform, child trafficking, children affected by the immigration of  their parents, improving child representation, and more. This session will be held at the Marriott Marquis in Atlanta, in room L404 on the Lobby Level, from 8am to 9:30am on Saturday February 12, 2011. 


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.

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


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