Georgia's Care of a Grandchild Act
Phillips, Deborah Lee
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A group of grandparent caregivers and service providers has been attempting to pass legislation, called The Care of a Grandchild Act, to provide a monthly subsidy to the relative caregiver families where the children have not been in foster care. Georgia has a Relative Care Subsidy Program that provides monthly payments to relatives who remove children from foster care, however, a majority of children end up in relative care through informal means, that is, the children have never been in state’s custody. While there is some support available to these children through Child Only TANF, the payments are too small to successfully raise children. The history of attempts to pass the legislation is included, along with an analysis using Jones’ Policy Process Model. The state of Florida passed similar legislation into law in 1998, called the Relative Caregiver Program. Jones’ Policy Process Model was used to analyze this law and a comparison of the Georgia bill and Florida law is included. There were two major differences between the bill and the law which might have implications for the lack of passage into law in Georgia. Attempts to assist relative caregiver families originated from a close partnership between Florida Children First, a private non-profit and the Florida Department of Children and Family Services, and a determination of abuse, neglect or abandonment, also known as deprivation, was required for eligibility. It is possible that a bill similar to the Florida law could pass in Georgia as a method for preventing placing children into foster care, however, the needs of the population of interest, informal caregiver families, would remain unmet. Suggestions for future attempts to pass legislation to prevent placement into foster care and to assist informal caregiver families in Georgia are included, along with the relevance of this project to the field of social work.