SB 350 Policy Implementation

Georgia Division of Families and Children Services

Currently, the Georgia Division of Families and Children Services (DFCS) is a hybrid public-private partnership. As originally introduced, Senate Bill 350 intended to fully privatize the remainder of Georgia’s child welfare services with the exception of oversight and case investigations. DFCS, under the Department of Human Services, was tasked to contract services to private service providers and faith-based organizations. Senate Bill 350 required the DFCS to contract with up to fifteen lead agencies that could provide only a maximum of thirty-five percent of the child welfare services in their assigned region. The remaining sixty-five percent of services would have to be subcontracted out to other private agencies. There was a rush to implement these sweeping changes in face of a deadline for getting federal approval for flexible use of foster care money under a waiver from Title IV of the Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act. However, the federal government has offered this flexibility before and it seems likely to be offered to states again in the future. As noted in the minority report, experience from other states indicates that fully privatizing child welfare systems will likely cost more. However, Senate Bill 350 provides no increase in total funding levels. Without an adequate level of financial investment in the program, successful implementation would have been in doubt. Unless there are encouraging positive results from a suggested pilot program study, at best SB350 could be considered a promising, but certainly not a proven, or even a best, policy practice implementation.