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Barton Child Law and Policy Center Newsletter
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Dear Child Advocates, this update contains:
Georgia Capitol Update
Bills of Interest to Child Advocates
Psychotropic Medication Monitoring Pilot Announced
Next Georgia Child Welfare Legal Academy April 21
Follow Us on Twitter!
Georgia Capitol Update

Last week the General Assembly met for three legislative days.  Highlights of the week include:

  • HB 373, the Department of Juvenile Justice's "good behavior bill" (see description below), received a favorable recommendation from the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, March 22, 2011, with a minor amendment extending the notice period to victims from 10 to 14 days.
  • HB 200, relating to human trafficking, including the sex trafficking of children (see description below), received a favorable recommendation from the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Tuesday, March 22, 2011.
  • HB 272, eliminating rehearings of decisions by associate juvenile court judges (see description below), received a  favorable recommendation from the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, March 24, 2011.
  • Although HB 185, the Runaway Youth Safety Act (see description below), did not pass the full House by cross-over day, it was given a second chance.  On Thursday, March 24, the House Non-Civil Judiciary Committee approved a substitute to SB 94 that removed that bill's original contents and replaced them with the text of the Runaway Youth Safety Act.  This was done with the approval of SB 94, Senator Bill Heath (R-Bremen).

This week the General Assembly will be in session all five week days.  Some meetings and events of interest to child advocates this week include:

  • The full Senate Appropriations Committee will consider the FY 2012 budget on Monday, March 2 at 10am in room 341 of the Capitol. A vote on the Senate version of the budget is expected.
  • The Lane Subcommittee of the House Civil Judiciary Committee will consider SB 115, eliminating foster care maintenance payment from child support calculations (see description below), in a hearing beginning at 4pm on Monday, March 28 in room 403 of the Capitol.
  • The Georgia Child Advocacy Network will meet on Tuesday, March 29 at 10:30am in room 310 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Building.

Please note that information on meetings and legislative hearings is current as of Monday, March 28, 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. 

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Bills of Interest to Child Advocates

 

Bills That Crossed Over

 

HB 200 was introduced by Representative Edward Lindsey (R-Atlanta) on February 10, 2011.  This  bill amends Georgia's anti-human trafficking law, which encompasses the commercial sexual exploitation of children, to: (1) clarify its offenses, (2) substantially increase penalties, (3) allow for forfeiture of property related to the crime, (4) limit use of the victim's sexual history, relation to the defendant, and ability to consent as a defense to sex trafficking, (5) provide that a person will not be guilty of a prostitution-related crime if the act was committed under coercion or deception while the person was a human trafficking victim, (6) clarify that victims of human trafficking are eligible for victim's compensation, (7) establish training for law enforcement on human trafficking issues, including appropriate treatment of victims, and (8) empower the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to investigate human trafficking cases and obtain subpoenas compelling compliance with those investigations.  The bill received a favorable recommendation from the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee on February 24, and passed the full House on March 2, 2011. HB 200 received a favorable recommendation from the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Tuesday, March 22, 2011 and now awaits consideration by the full Senate.

 

HB 272 was introduced by Representative Tom Weldon (R-Ringgold) on February 17, 2011.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 15-11-21 to eliminate the option for cases heard before an associate judge in juvenile court to be reheard before a full juvenile court judge. HB 272 received a favorable recommendation from the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, March 24, 2011 and now awaits consideration by the full Senate.

  

HB 314, known as "Jessie's Law," was introduced by Representative Tom Dickson (R-Cohutta) on February 23, 2011.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 20-2-692.2 to allow children in foster care to leave school to attend court hearings in their deprivation cases without being counted absent for part or all of the school day.  HB 314 received a favorable recommendation from the House Education Committee on March 4, 2011, and passed the full House on March 11, 2011.  It now awaits consideration by the Senate Education and Youth Committee.

 

HB 373 was introduced by Representative BJ Pak (R-Lilburn) on February 28, 2011.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 15-11-63 to allow the Department of Juvenile Justice or a child to bring a motion to modify custody when the child has been committed to the Department following an adjudication for a designated felony.  The bill allows the court to recognize a child's good behavior, and academic and rehabilitative progress by granting release from restrictive custody.  The motion could only be filed after the child had served a year in custody, and could not be refiled more than once a year.  HB 373 received a favorable recommendation from the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, March 22, 2011, and now awaits consideration by the full Senate.

  

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. The bill states that only the child, not the parent, can waive the privilege.  SB 31 was passed by the Senate on February 23, 2011, received a favorable recommendation from the Jacobs Subcommittee of House Civil Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, March 23, 2011, and now awaits consideration by the full Committee.

  

SB 57 was introduced by Senator Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) on February 9, 2011.  This bill would add a new code section to Chapter 5 of Title 40 to prohibit people who have been convicted of crimes against children that would qualify them for registry as sex offenders from obtaining commercial driver's licenses for vehicles that transport 16 or more people.  SB 57  passed the full Senate on Wednesday, March 16, 2011, and now awaits assignment to a House Committee.

 

SB 80 was introduced by Senator Joshua McKoon (R-Columbus) on February 15, 2011.  This bill would require any person, including a juvenile, who is arrested for a felony offense, to give a DNA sample, which would be analyzed and kept in a database by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.   SB 80 passed the Senate on Wednesday, March 16, 2011, and now awaits consideration by the House Motor Vehicles Committee.

 

SB 94 was introduced by Senator Bill Heath (R-Bremen) on February 16, 2011, and passed the Senate February 28, 2011 as a gun bill.  On Thursday, March 24, 2011, the House Non-Civil Judiciary Committee, with permission of the sponsor, replaced its contents with Runaway Youth Safety Act.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 16-5-45 relating to interference with custody and O.C.G.A. 16-12-1 relating to contributing to the unruliness of a minor to provide a limited exception to misdemeanor liability for licensed or registered shelters providing services to runaway youth as long as they either contact a parent or DFCS within the first 72 hours of contact with the child.  SB 94  received a favorable recommendation from the House Non-Civil Judiciary Committee on Thursday, March 24, 2011, and now awaits consideration by the full House.

 

SB 112, the Military Parents' Rights Act, was introduced by Senator Joshua McKoon (R-Columbus) on February 22, 2011.  This bill would add a new part to O.C.G.A. Title 19, Chapter 9, Article 2, to provide additional protections to military parents regarding court actions affecting their custody and other rights to their children immediately before, during, or after deployment.   SB 112 passed the Senate on Monday, March 14, 2011, and now awaits consideration by the House Civil Judiciary Committee.

 

SB 115 was introduced by Senator Hardie Davis (D-Augusta) on February 22, 2011.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 19-6-15 to exclude foster care maintenance payments from calculations of a person's income for purposes of determining child support.  SB 115 passed the full Senate on March 4, 2011.  It will be considered by the Lane Subcommittee of House Civil Judiciary Committee at 4pm on Monday, March 28, 2011 in room 403 of the Capitol.

   

Bills That Did Not Cross Over

 

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 will begin 2012 committed 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, legal guardian, or health care agent 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 received a favorable recommendation from the House Civil Judiciary Committee on March 11, 2011, but did not pass the full House by cross-over day.

 

HB 185, the Runaway Youth Safety Act, was introduced by Representative Tom Weldon (R-Ringgold) on February 9, 2011.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 16-5-45 relating to interference with custody and O.C.G.A. 16-12-1 relating to contributing to the unruliness of a minor to provide a limited exception to misdemeanor liability for licensed or registered shelters providing services to runaway youth as long as they either contact a parent or DFCS within the first 72 hours of contact with the child.  HB 185 received a favorable recommendation from the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee on March 10, 2011.  Although the bill did not pass the full House by cross-over day, its language has now been inserted into SB 94  (see above).

 

HB 230 was introduced by Representative Ed Setzler (R-Acworth) on February 10, 2011.  This bill would add a new code section to Chapter 2 of Title 20 to require local boards of education to develop a curriculum to teach children in grades six through eight and eight through ten about the potential liability for committing certain offenses, with an emphasis on felonies for which they can be charged as adults and sexual offenses.  HB 230  will begin 2012 committed to the House Education Committee.

 

HB 267 was introduced by Representative Sheila Jones (D-Smyrna) on February 17, 2011.  This bill would add a new code section to O.C.G.A. Title 20, Chapter 2 to require the Department of Education to develop a comprehensive strategy to inform children in grades 4-12 about the dangers of "sexting," or sending explicit images via text message.  HB 267 will begin 2012 committed to  the House Education Committee on March 11, 2011.

 

HB 282, the Military Parents' Rights Act, was introduced by Representative John Yates (R-Griffin) on February 22, 2011.  This bill would add a new part to O.C.G.A. Title 19, Chapter 9, Article 2, to provide additional protections to military parents regarding court actions affecting their custody and other rights to their children immediately before, during, or after deployment.   HB 282 has been referred to the House Civil Judiciary Committee.  Although this bill did not pass by cross-over day, a companion, SB 112, passed the full Senate on Monday, March 14, 2011 (see above).

 

HB 471 was introduced by Representative Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs) on March 7, 2011.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 15-11-46.1 to require that an objective, written assessment instrument be used to determine whether detention of a child in a Regional Youth Detention Center or alternate out-of-home setting is appropriate for a child who has been arrested.  The bill also clarifies that keeping a child in secure detention prior to adjudication and disposition should be done rarely, and only if less restrictive options have been determined to be inappropriate.  HB 471  will begin 2012 committed to the House Non-Civil Judiciary Committee. 

 

HB 529 was introduced by Representative Donna Sheldon (R-Dacula) on March 11, 2011.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 19-7-5 to expand the professionals required to report child abuse or neglect to include reproductive health clinics.  HB 529 will begin 2012 committed to  the

House Non-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.  HR 9 

will begin 2012 committed to  the House Children and Youth 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 will begin 2012 committed to the Senate Education and Youth Committee.  

 

SB 43 was introduced by Senator Donzella James (D-College Park) on February 7, 2011.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 20-2-690.1 to expand the range of ages during which children are required to be in school from 6 to 16 years of age to 5 to 17 years of age, and to create exceptions where the child is not eligible for enrollment, has completed a GED or high school certificate program, or is enrolled in another appropriate educational program.  SB 43 will begin 2012 committed to the Senate Education and Youth Committee.

 

SB 46 was introduced by Senator Gloria Butler (D-Stone Mountain) on February 7, 2011.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 20-2-143 to require that the sex education curriculum from students in grades 7 through 12 include information on dating violence, including warning signs, prevention, and resources for victims.  SB 46 will begin 2012 committed to the Senate Education and Youth Committee. 

 

SB 49 was introduced by Senator John Albers (R-Roswell) on February 7, 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 16.5 years of age. It would also amend O.C.G.A. 20-4-15 and 20-4-18 to reflect this change in age with respect to adult literacy and post secondary education programs. SB 49  received a favorable recommendation from Senate Education and Youth Committee but did not pass the full Senate by cross-over day.

 

HB 215 was introduced by Representative Paul Battles (R-Cartersville) on February 10, 2011.  This bills would add a new code section to Chapter 5 of Title 40 to prohibit people who have been convicted of crimes against children that would qualify them for registry as sex offenders from obtaining commercial driver's licenses for vehicles that transport 16 or more people.  HB 215 has been referred to the House Motor Vehicles Committee.  Although this bill did not pass by cross-over day, a companion, SB 57, passed the full Senate on Wednesday, March 16, 2011 (see above).

 

SB 105 was introduced by Senator Emanuel Jones (D-Decatur) on February 17, 2011.  This bill would require the Commissioner of the Department of Juvenile Justice to create 3-member juvenile parole panels to review and, where appropriate, grant parole petitions relating to children committed to the Department as the result of an adjudication of delinquency for a designated felony.  The petition for parole may be brought by either the child or the Department, requires a recommendation by a Department counselor or placement supervisor, and may not be brought until after the child has been in the Department's custody for at least a year. SB 105 will begin 2012 committed to the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

 

SB 127, the Child Protection and Public Safety Act, was introduced by Senator Bill Hamrick (R-Carrollton) on February 23, 2011.  This bill is a comprehensive revision of O.C.G.A. Title 15, Chapter 11, Georgia's juvenile code.  It reorganizes the code for ease of understanding and application, modernizes substantive provisions to reflect advances in research and practice, and brings Georgia into full compliance with federal laws applicable to juvenile court proceedings.  SB 127 will begin 2012 committed to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

 

SB 164 was introduced by Senator Joshua McKoon (R-Columbus) on February 28, 2011.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 19-7-5 to expand the professionals required to report child abuse or neglect to include commercial film developers and picture processors, reproductive health clinics, emergency medical technicians and paramedics, and physical therapists.  SB 164  

will begin 2012 committed to the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

  
SB 208, the Dropout Deterrent Act, was introduced by Senator Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) on March 4, 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, and to allow the parent of a 16 year old to sign a waiver allowing the child to go to technical school or community college rather than a traditional public school. SB 208 will begin 2012 committed to the Senate Education and Youth Committee.
  
SB 224 was introduced by Senator Emanuel Jones (D-Decatur) on March 7, 2011.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 15-11-28 to limit the cases where children aged thirteen or older would be automatically tried for aggravated child molestation in superior court rather than juvenile court to those where the victim is physically injured. SB 224 will begin 2012 committed to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  
SB 247 was introduced by Senator Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro) on March 10, 2011.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 19-8-3 to allow a judge presiding over an adoption of a child by a single person who is living with adult who would be a regular presence in the child's life to consider the nature of that relationship and whether it would be harmful or beneficial to the child in granting or denying the adoption. SB 247 will begin 2012 committed to the Senate Special Judiciary Committee.
  
 
  

The Barton Center Partners with DHS and Casey Family Programs on Psychotropic Medication Monitoring Pilot

 

Casey Family Programs will fund a pilot program to review prescription patterns of psychotropic drugs for children in Georgia's foster care system.  The program will work out of the Barton Child Law and Policy Center at Emory University Law School, in partnership with the Georgia Department of Human Services (DHS) and other community partners.

 

 "This pilot project to review how the state provides mental health services and psychotropic prescriptions for foster care children is an excellent public-private partnership including the courts, physicians and the Barton Child Law and Policy Center at Emory Law School," said DHS Commissioner Clyde L. Reese, former Commissioner of Department of Community Health. 

 

 "Many children in foster care have been traumatized and are in need of quality mental health treatment. However, multiple overlapping layers of prescription drugs is not always quality care," said Representative Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur).  "This Casey Family Programs grant will help us develop a plan for better mental health care, and I am grateful for their timely participation."

 

This announcement came as a direct result of Georgia Supreme Court's "Cold Case Project" recommendations and HB 23, which would put those recommendations into law. The Georgia Supreme Court's Cold Case Project is funded by Casey Family Programs and conducted in full partnership with the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services and the Georgia Office of the Child Advocate.  This project allows thirteen attorneys, serving as Supreme Court of Georgia Fellows, to thoroughly review cases of children who have been in foster care for an extended period of time and who appear to be aging out of foster care without attaining permanency. 

 

When the Cold Case Project concluded its original one year term, the Committee on Justice for Children published a paper based on project findings.  This paper included recommendations for changes in law or policy that will serve to stop "foster care drift" and find permanent homes for children who have been in foster care more than two years. "Drift" refers to a child's lengthy placement away from the natural family and no clear goal to return the child or find some other permanent home.

 

Working in a bi-partisan manner to enact the Cold Case Project recommendations, Representatives Mary Margaret Oliver and Judy Manning (R-Marietta) sponsored HB 23.  This legislation is a product of efforts involving Governor Deal, Commissioners Frank Shelp of the Department of Behavior Health, Commissioner Reese, and other state leaders.

"Governor Deal's early career days as a juvenile court judge gives him unique insight into what children in foster care experience and how government cannot be the best parent for children who have experienced trauma," said Representative Oliver.  

 

HB 23 would create an independent medical review for prescription drug use of children in state custody.  The bill would also require DHS to develop an independent medical review of psychotropic medications and to define the proper authority for consenting to prescription drugs for children in foster care.  These measures are necessary because Department of Community Health cost reports and file reviews show that children in foster care are prescribed psychotropic drugs at an alarmingly high rate.   

 

 

Next Georgia Child Welfare Legal Academy April 21, 2011

  

Collateral Consequences of our Current Criminal Justice System

 

Registration is now open for the next session of the GA Child Welfare Legal Academy on Thursday April 21st from 2:00 until 4:15 p.m.  Guest lecturer, Doug Ammar, the Executive Director of the Georgia Justice Project, will facilitate a discussion about justice using the story  Les MisÚrables.   This movie, which focuses on the struggles of ex-convict Jean Valjean and his experience of redemption, will give Doug a chance to explore how grace, justice and the different types of love are relevant to today's system of justice.  Doug will also look at our current criminal justice system and how it impacts the juvenile justice system and the child welfare system in Georgia.   

   

 Click here to register or for more details.

Seating is limited:  Online registration is strongly encouraged. The registration fee for all participants is $10.
 

Parking
: Your parking will be validated for 3 hours. Parking is limited to the Hospital Visitor deck, Lowergate (not Lowergate South).  Please reference http://www.law.emory.edu/about-emory-law/maps-directions.html for parking information and driving directions. 

CLE credit:
 2.0 regular CLE credits will be offered for this program for an additional fee of $10.00 payable by cash or check at the door. Please make checks payable to Emory University.

 

 

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  • Times, dates, and locations of advocacy meetings and legislative hearings;
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