A spirited debate has prompted members of a Georgia House of Representatives subcommittee to call for a second hearing on legislation that would allow homeless shelters to provide emergency housing and services to runaway children without immediate parental notification. Members of the Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee decided to include Georgia’s Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) in a future hearing on the Runaway Youth Safety Act, after scheduled testimony ran over time Tuesday. “We need to hear from DFCS,” said chairman Rep. Ed Setzler, (R-Acworth) of the next hearing to be planned for HB 185. “We need DFCS to be involved.”
As drafted, the measure would protect facilities that serve runaways from violating two state laws: contributing to the unruliness of a minor and interference of custody of a parent, so long as staffers either contact a parent or file an abuse report within the first 72 hours of contact with the child. Committee members sipped on Coca-Cola and Dasani water as they peppered the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Tom Weldon (R-Ringgold), with questions during the standing-room-only hearing at the state capitol.