Quite a few legislative changes were made to improve services to children and to enhance protections of children and seniors. For the first time in a number of years, most providers received rate increases and many programs aiding the disabled, handicapped, children and seniors received additional funding.
Legislation related to Human Services
• HB 52 – When a court is deciding custody, bill clarifies that a separate order is not necessary and that the court’s decision serves as the plan.
• HB 229 – Makes clear the rights of grandparents and great grandparents to apply for visitation rights during a time when a divorce is being processed. Applies when a child has a connection to the grandparents or to another family member which serves the child’s interests to be continued.
• HB 555 – Requires clerks of juvenile courts to gather statistics and report to the Administrative Office of the Courts the number of abortions requested by juveniles without parental notification, along with other information.
• HB 725 – Child Abuse Records Protection Act — Requires a court order to release child abuse records. Court must issue a protective order binding recipients. Meaning of child abuse is amended to include abuse by a guardian or caretaker. Expands list that may release records to include child advocacy centers.
• HB 770 – Increases penalties for trafficking for sexual exploitation of minors or persons with disabilities.
• HB 897 – Requires Departemnt of Public Health to set up a repository for donated unopened drugs for redistribution to eligible recipients. Drug companies and individuals can contribute drugs which cannot be controlled substances.
• HB 887 – Gives preference in placement of a child by DFCS to a relative and provides a method for parents to grant temporary caregiving authority to another person for a limited time up to a year plus a month if a military deployment.
• HB 905 – Changes court provisions on child abuse and creates a scorecard to be administered by DHS to rate child welfare agencies.
• HB 1085 – Transfers Community Care Services Program (CCSP) and implementation of the Georgia Medical Assistance Act of 1977 to Department of Community Health.
Wide range of funding initiatives in Human Services
From provider reimbursement increases to increases in program budgets, the FY 2017 general budget contained some long overdue improvements:
• 100 additional slots for the New Options Waiver (NOW)
• 175 additional child protective caseworkers
• 11 additional adult Protective caseworkers
• 180 additional DFCS eligibility caseworkers
• $11.9 million for provider rate increases for Comprehensive Supports Waiver Program
• $4.3 million for provider rate increases for child-caring agencies, placement foster parents and relatives
• $500,000 to increase funding for “Meals on Wheels”
• 1,000 new Non-Medicaid Home and Community Service slots
• $1 million to allow transfer of 167 seniors from nursing homes into community setting
• $750,000 in increased funding for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) to increase services around the state
• $1.2 million to increase rates for special assistant attorneys general who represent local DFCS offices
• $3.8 million for provider increase for Independent Care Waiver Program
• $2 million for a rate increase for occupational and physical therapy providers in Children’s Intervention Services (CIS)
Groups and providers give valuable services to those in need around the state. The raises or small increases in this budget came after many years of no growth at all. Full transcripts of bills may be found at http://www.legis.ga.gov/en-US/default.aspx. Simply type the bill number into the box at the top left-hand corner of the screen and specify if it is in the House or the Senate. The FY 2017 budget (H.B. 751) may be found at www.senate.ga.gov/sbeo/en-US/AppropriationsDocuments.aspx. As always, I welcome any questions you may have.
I may be reached at
234 State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334
(404) 656-5038 (phone)
(404) 657-7094 (fax)
E-mail at Jack.Hill@senate.ga.gov
Or call toll-free at
1-800-367-3334 day or night
Reidsville office: (912) 557-3811