An Athens-Clarke County public-private partnership pilot that hoped to deal with the Department of Family and Children’s Services’s long-standing staffing and care issues has been delayed indefinitely.
The Athens Banner-Herald reports that agency spokeswoman Ravae Graham cites an effort “to review the scope of the project to determine how to obtain the best outcomes for youth in the foster care system.” Our own Lawton Sack asked for clarification and was told “the agency currently plans to rebid the project after working with the Child Welfare Reform Council and other stakeholders.”
The suspended pilot program would have gone in to effect in Regions 3 and 5 (Rome and Athens) and been modeled on partnerships between state agencies and government-chartered nonprofits that provide mental-health services. Ideally, the program would have allowed DFCS employees to recruit urgently-needed foster parents rather than address children in crisis.
The plan had been advocated by the governor as part of his effort to reform the DFCS following the highly-publicized deaths of two Atlanta-area children to abuse and neglect. The vague language quoted above suggests problems with the bidding process and complaints from “stakeholders.” Though the delay is a disappointment for the governor and advocates of reform, it’s better to get the project right than to trust the welfare of vulnerable children to a flawed system.
If you’re interested in fostering a child, visit the DFCS website here.