The state juvenile code rewrite and a bill proposing an end to the practice of overmedicating foster children topped the agenda Tuesday as advocates from JUSTGeorgia and the Georgia Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program gathered at the capitol for their annual lobby day. More than 300 supporters from across the state turned out to meet with legislators about what they say are two top critical policy issues affecting children this session. “We’re all here trying to do right for the children of Georgia,” says Georgia CASA Executive Director Duaine Hathaway. “We are here to inspire Georgia legislators and get them to act on behalf of Georgia’s children.”
JUSTGeorgia Project Manager Julia Neighbors says the event is as an opportunity for the network of volunteers and supporters to reconnect with seasoned lawmakers, while raising awareness among the 45 new legislators who have taken office this year. “This is also just a good opportunity for JUSTGeorgia to work with CASA,” she says.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will discuss the juvenile code rewrite bill SB 292, Article 6 next Monday at 2 pm in room 450 at the Capitol. Article 6 is controversial because it deals with Children in Need of Services (CHIN’s). These kids are considered status offenders under Georgia law. Currently, they are treated the same as delinquent kids. Article 6 would provide status offenders with family oriented services geared toward fixing their problems. Some of the agencies expected to attend include the Truancy Intervention Project, the Office of Child Advocacy and the Department of Behavioral Health. Attorney Julia Neighbors from Just Georgia wrote a passionate argument for Article 6:
“Current research and best practices now suggest that youth and families in crisis require a faster response than courts can offer and that juvenile justice systems are often ill-equipped to provide the services these youth and families need. ”