Senate passes bill to privatize foster care, adoption

Georgia senators Tuesday voted to approve a bill that would privatize the bulk of the state’s child welfare services, including foster care and adoption.

Senate Bill 350 would require the Division of Family and Children Services to bid out primary functions such as adoption, family preservation, independent living, foster care and case management. DFCS would still conduct investigations and handle claims of child abuse and neglect.

After two hours of debate, senators voted 31-18 to approve the bill, which supporters characterized as a vote against big government. Critics said the bill does not address the real flaws in Georgia’s system that led to recent high-profile child deaths.

The changes are contingent on the state receiving a funding waiver from the U.S. government, which currently restricts how federal money can be used to care for foster children. Changes would be phased in over a two-year period beginning July 2015.

The bill now moves to the House for debate.

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