General Assembly decides on DFCS bills

ATLANTA – Three bills dealing with child care in Georgia remained in limbo late Thursday as the midnight deadline loomed.

Thursday was the last day of the legislative session; any bill that didn't pass by the end of the day would fail.

Four months ago, most people had not heard the name Emani Moss, but she was certainly on the hearts and minds of many lawmakers on Thursday.

"There's no way that I could watch that story unfold and do nothing about it," said state Sen. Renee Unterman. "There was no way I could do that."

In the final days of the legislative session, Unterman fought to pass a bill that would fully privatize foster care in Georgia. The House passed a pilot program instead. Unterman believes the compromise Thursday night will be both – privatization in three parts of the state to start, then statewide in three years.

"How can I come back to the General Assembly knowing what has happened to the children in foster care in the state of Georgia and do absolutely nothing about it?" Unterman asked.

Unterman says she will also vote for a bill we have been tracking closely that would increase transparency and add more teeth to child fatality investigations. Those measures has yet to come up for a vote late Thursday.

"You're going to wait, you're going to keep negotiating, keep negotiating, until the very last minute, literally," said political analyst Steve Anthony.

Anthony says especially, because it's the governor's initiative.

"They don't just want to bow down to him, give him everything he wants right off the bat. You've got to make him earn it," Anthony said.

A third bill that would introduce a second-degree murder option for parents whose children died because of neglect or bad parenting also had yet to be passed.

Lawmakers have passed two measures that will help protect children in the state. One requires the Department of Family and Children's Services to notify a school employee that reports abuse that it got the report and alert them of the outcome of their investigation. The other allows foster families to report run away or missing foster children in the hopes of finding them faster.


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