Short-Changed Relative Caregivers Find Champion in Georgia Lawmaker

Georgia State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D) plans to push for increased payments to relatives who care for foster children during a budget hearing Monday.

Oliver will ask her colleagues on the House appropriations subcommittee for human services to commit roughly $2.68 million annually for unlicensed relative caregivers who receive significantly less from the state than licensed foster parents.

Licensed foster parents receive between $25 and $30 a day, while the state’s roughly 7,300 unlicensed relatives get $17 to $21.

Georgia – like many other states across the country – has become increasingly reliant on relatives to care for foster children as overall numbers have ballooned. The number of Georgia children in foster care has nearly doubled since 2014, creating intense pressure on the system to find loving homes for all the children in its care.

“Research is convincing that children taken from their parents do better when placed with extended family,” Oliver said. “A policy to pay low-income family members less than state recruited foster care parents for care doesn’t help the child.”

Tom Rawlings (center), director of Georgia’s Division of Family and Children Services.

Tom Rawlings, the acting director of Georgia’s child welfare agency, the Division of Family and Child Services (DFCS), is a proponent of Oliver’s efforts.

“I am completely in support of the idea that we need to do all we can do for relative caregivers,” Rawlings said.

If Oliver’s hoped-for increase goes through it would add to already sizeable DFCS budget gains envisioned in new Governor Brain Kemp’s (R) recently released statewide spending plan.

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Daniel Heimpel
About Daniel Heimpel 192 Articles
Daniel is the founder of Fostering Media Connections and the publisher of The Chronicle of Social Change.