Deal Names Members of Child Welfare Reform Council

Governor Nathan Deal yesterday named 20 people to the new Child Welfare Reform Council. For the remainder of the year, the panel will examine the Department of Family and Children’s Services and consider how the agency’s functions might be improved, especially as it relates to foster care. In naming the members, the Governor said,

With this council now in place, it is our hope to uncover new approaches that will strengthen our child welfare system and ensure that Georgia’s children are given the best shot at a good life. These appointees have dedicated themselves to improving the lives of children, and I feel confident that together they will produce meaningful and thoughtful reform recommendations.

The council came into existence after the house failed to pass Senate Bill 350, which would have, among other things, required DFACS to bid out foster care to private companies. The House modified the bill to turn it into a more limited pilot program, and the governor shortly thereafter decided on the study commission approach, effectively stalling reform efforts for at least another year.

One person whose name doesn’t appear on the list of names appointed to the council is Richard L. Jackson.

Jackson was one of the people leading the charge to move to a private foster care system. The AJC ran an extensive profile of his efforts before SB 350 was voted on in February, saying,

[Jackson’s] proposal would mark the biggest change to the state’s child welfare system in decades. The bill, which would contract out functions such as adoption, foster care, family reunification and case management, has provoked concern and skepticism among many within the system. It’s based on a plan that took root a decade ago in Florida, and child advocates worry Jackson is using his money and influence to propel the state on a headlong path of change without enough study on how it would affect the 7,700 children in foster care.

The fact that Jackson was not named to a panel that effectively came about via his efforts sounds like a snub.

In addition to trying to reform Georgia’s child welfare system, Jackson’s other passion this year was trying to change the way medical malpractice suits are handled in the Peach State. He was the brains behind the Patient Compensation Act, which went nowhere after Jackson’s efforts to get the bill passed were exposed.

Many on the left are upset by yesterday’s Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon, which removes limits on aggregate campaign contributions for federal races. That ruling, along with the earlier Citizens United decision raised fears that the rich could purchase the influence and legislation they wanted to see passed.

Here in Georgia, it appears one needn’t worry. No one wanted to buy what Richard Jackson was selling.