Bill to privatize child welfare clears first vote

A controversial bill to privatize the bulk of Georgia's child welfare system cleared an early legislative hurdle Thursday when it was voted out of a healthcare subcommittee. Senate Bill 350 would require the Division of Family and Children Services to contract out primary functions such as adoption, family preservation, independent living, foster care and case management. Several speakers voiced concern about the speed lawmakers are moving on what will be a major overhaul of the system. But Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, who sponsored the legislation, said those criticisms are unfair, and said after a work group study this fall it's apparent "the system is broken."