- What is the Advocacy Program responsible for at Families First?The Advocacy Program is a key part to Families First’s approach to achieving the organization’s mission to ensure the success of children in jeopardy by empowering families. The Advocacy Program identifies areas of public policy that must be addressed in order to help create the conditions that will break cycles of poverty and allow families to succeed and thrive. The program analyzes policy, identifies best practices and needed changes, determines strategies, and engages staff, volunteers and other partner organizations in the work.
- What are the goals of the Advocacy Program for 2015?
There are six main goals that the Advocacy Program would like to accomplish for 2015. These goals include:
Encourage state officials to close the coverage gap by expanding Medicaid to include adults with incomes below 138% of the federal poverty level. (We’ve had this on our agenda consistently.)
Monitoring Foster Care Privatization – SB350, a legislative bill that was considered in the 2014 session, would have privatized the foster care system in a way that generated substantial controversy. The bill did not pass, but Governor Deal appointed a commission to study options for changes in the child welfare system. We have been watching the Governor’s Commission meetings closely, and will continue to monitor the this issue.
Monitoring Licensing and Inspection of Child Welfare Providers – Legislation during the 2014 session created a study committee which is studying possible consolidation of the licensing and inspection of child welfare providers. Legislators want to streamline these processes, eradicate redundancies, and ensure accountability in the licensing and inspection process. We will continue to monitor the progress of the committee.
Legitimation Issues: We want to work with local hospitals to help educate the public, particularly new parents and fathers, of paternity rights and explain the rights of legitimation. We want to ensure that all fathers have access to information about legitimation and the legal intricacies that legitimization entail
Bus Tours for Legislators: Conduct bus tours of Families First programs for members of the State Legislature, potentially right after the close of the 2015 legislative session.
Staff Day at the Capitol: Organize a day for Families First Staff members to visit their legislators at the State Capitol, learn about the legislative process, and share the vision and mission of Families First with government officials.
- How can I find out who my legislators/representatives are?
The Georgia General Assembly is a bicameral legislature, meaning it is comprised of two legislative bodies. These bodies are the Georgia House of Representatives and the Georgia State Senate. Every citizen residing in the state of Georgia is represented by both a State Representative and a State Senator. To find who your State Representative and your State Senator are, you can visit Project Vote Smart , enter your home address, and find the the names of your representatives. The Georgial General Assmebly website also maintains a roster sheet that lists every State Representative and State Senator and the district he or she represents.
- How can I read legislation that the Georgia General Assembly is currently considering?
You can read bills that have been filed by members of the Georgia General Assembly and follow their progress by visiting the Assembly’s official website, www.legis.ga.gov. Once there, click on the “Legislation” tab on the top of the page. This page will allow you to view the calendars of both houses, as well as read summaries and full bills of legislation that has been filed in both chambers. You may also watch legislators in session and in many committee meetings by visiting the site.
- What other organizations in Georgia does the Advocacy Program partner with?
Partnerships are essential to advocating on behalf of Families First’s mission and vision. The many organizations with whom the Advocacy Program partners include Georgia Children’s Advocacy Network (Georgia CAN!), Georgians for a Healthy Future, and the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute.