Gov. Brian Kemp has rolled out his administration’s bill package for foster care and adoption in Georgia that would boost tax credits for foster parents and tighten reporting requirements on child abuse.
The bills would revive Kemp’s push to raise the tax credit for foster parents from $2,000 to $6,000 and lower the minimum age adults are allowed to adopt children from 25 to 21. Those proposals were shelved when the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted last year’s legislative session.
A third bill would add more training for juvenile court officers, expand rules for parents under court-ordered alternatives care and require officials to report on a range of child-abuse treatment including abandonment, neglect, emotional abuse and exposure to chronic alcohol or drug use.
The number of Georgia children in foster care has declined over the past three years but remains high, according to state Division of Children and Family Services data. The state currently has about 11,200 children in foster care, down from 15,000 in March 2018.
Kemp has made foster care a legislative priority for his administration along with cracking down on human trafficking and gang activities.
“The most fundamental need for any child is a safe, loving home,” Kemp said Thursday in a statement.
“By making it more affordable to adopt, reducing bureaucratic red tape that stands in the way of loved ones adopting kids, and championing the safety of children across our state, we can ensure Georgia’s children are placed in those homes and secure a safer, brighter future for generations to come.”
The three bills are being sponsored by state Rep. Bert Reeves, R-Marietta, and state Sen. Bo Hatchett, R-Cornelia, both of whom Kemp appointed as floor leaders in their respective chambers.
The measures follow Kemp’s signing of a bill last year that prohibits foster parents from engaging in improper sexual behavior with children in their care, closing a loophole in current state law.