Bill Proposes Contractual Bidding Out of Statewide Child Welfare Services

February 18, 2014 16:03 pm

by Mike Hassinger · 10 comments

Senate Bill 350 would allow the state to contract with public and private community-based providers, to provide child welfare services via a bidding process. View the bill for yourself at this link and feel free to offer your opinion in our comments section. (As the talking heads on TV like to say: “Good thing or bad thing?”) The press release from State Senator Renee Unterman is below.

“ATLANTA (February 18, 2014) | The Georgia State Senate passed Senate Bill 350 today by a vote of 31 to 18.  Sen. Renee Unterman (R—Buford), Chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, sponsored this legislation to allow for child welfare services to be bid upon through contracts with community based providers, both public and private.

“I am pleased by the passage of Senate Bill 350 746 today,” said Senator Unterman. “Private-public partnerships are critical to ensuring the welfare of Georgia’s children, especially those in foster care. This legislation will provide a greater level of local support to Georgia’s children and families while also improving access to resources, services and support.”

During the fall, extensive public hearings were held on Senate Bill 350 as part of Lt. Governor Casey Cagle’s Foster Care Reform Initiative Working Group. Under this legislation, the Georgia Department of Children and Family Services is required to contract out several of its key services, including foster care, adoption and case management to either private or public providers.

If passed into law, the Division of Child and Family Services (DFCS) will be responsible for submitting a proposal to the Governor to competitively bid for the administration of child welfare services through fixed price contracts with designated state agencies.  This plan will require the coordination of state and local communities and must include adults who were previously a part of Georgia’s foster care system. The statewide plan must be submitted to the Governor prior to January 1, 2015 and will be phased-in slowly over a two-year period.

In order for the plan to receive federal financing and become fully implemented in Georgia, DFCS must secure a federal waiver from the federal Administration for Children and Families no later than April 1, 2014.

Under this bill, DFCS will be responsible for setting the standards for the competitive bidding process and maintaining a high standard of quality assurance and monitoring for all contracted programs and services.  Additionally, DFCS cannot transfer services until the particular entity responsible for administering the program or services is fully prepared to assume responsibility.

Senate Bill 350 will now transfer to the Georgia House of Representatives for consideration.”

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

dorian February 18, 2014 at 5:05 pm

Also known as the ‘We’re tired of being sued so we sell child welfare to the lowest bidder’ legislation.

xdog February 18, 2014 at 7:15 pm

That was my thought too. I’m surprised they don’t propose building more orphanages, especially since the prison building boom is playing out. Also I see that ‘to receive federal financing and become fully implemented in Georgia’ DFCS has 6 weeks from today to get a waiver.

dorian February 19, 2014 at 7:13 am

I suppose in their defense the kids are too young to vote, economically disadvantaged, and unlikely to grow up and vote republican anyway. The next step will likely be a contract with Greyhound and a bus ticket to ‘somewhere else’ since they haven’t solved the deprived child problem by making it harder to report.

Mike Hassinger February 19, 2014 at 8:58 am

Reply to all of you, and I mean this sincerely: What would be wrong with small, well-run, specialized orphanages? Would they be more expensive or more dangerous than the current system? I understand that achieving cost efficiency through institutionalization is probably the worst possible care for very small kids (babies to age 6 or 7? idk) but wasn’t there a study showing that as bad as orphanages were, they were not as bad as moving kids from foster family to foster family to foster family?
I’m aware of the problems with orphanages in the past. I’m just wondering if there’s a more modern version that might be better than them and better than our current system.

Harry February 19, 2014 at 9:09 am

There are some individuals who view the foster care system as an easy money opportunity.

dorian February 19, 2014 at 6:36 pm

I have no idea what the middling bureaucrats who testify up there in Atlanta have to say, but I can tell you for folks in the trenches DFCS is broken. Funding has been cut so as to render it inoperable. You may as well close the whole thing down. This “solution” of contracting out what’s left to the lowest bidder, well that’s just consistent with everything else that has been done up there. The way that you couched the issue sounds great in a sound byte. I’m sure the orphanages are wonderful. What child wouldn’t want to be in one? I’m sure this will be done with the same level of care and attention as everything else.

becauseisaidso February 19, 2014 at 9:10 am

In response to Mike’s question, I have a question. I know several denominations have children’s homes. They have house parents and generally have I think about eight kids per house who live more or less like a big family. My question is, does anyone know how well these homes work? I think it would be worth looking into.

Lea Thrace February 19, 2014 at 9:58 am

The United Methodist Children’s Home is nothing short of outstanding. I volunteer there as often as I can and I remain amazed at the wonderful work the staff do.But they are a relatively small operation when compared to the sheer number of children the state system deals with. I am not sure how it would be possible to expand this type of system to accommodate the current needs.

By the way, if anyone is ever looking for a way to volunteer or donate, UMCH in Decatur is a great way to do that.

http://www.umchildrenshome.org/

Three Jack February 19, 2014 at 12:56 pm

This is another example of a privately funded children’s home that I have personally visited and helped out in the past – http://www.calvarykids.org/index.php – Calvary Children’s Home does incredible work and provides a great example of how kids should be treated.

xdog February 19, 2014 at 10:19 am

“Small, well-run, specialized orphanages” would cost a lot to build, staff, maintain. There are around 10K foster kids in Georgia so depending on your definition of small, figure 50-100 orphanages. At a guess it costs around 20K to house a prisoner. It would cost at least that much to support a kid.

At a guess, orphanages wouldn’t be much safer than foster care. Face it, those kids are in harm’s way just by the fact of not having parents.

Do you know how the economics of privatizing prisons has worked out? Do states benefit?