COVINGTON, Ga. — More than 93 Newton County families are certified to provide foster care.
To honor those families and the various organizations that help meet the needs of children in foster care, such as Alcovy CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), Mayor Steve Horton proclaimed May to be Foster Care, CASA, Foster Family Recognition Month.
“I think there’s nothing on this Earth that's more important than tending to the needs and care of children,” Horton said during the city council’s May 3 meeting.
In part, the proclamation states, “… Whereas, we must come together as a community to recognize the important role foster parents play in caring for children who have experienced abuse and neglect, supporting family reunification and building strong communities; and whereas, we must come together as a community to recognize the vital role a CASA Volunteer has in the life of a child in foster care in caring for their best interest and being the voice of the child; and whereas, during National Foster Care Month we celebrate all those who have invited a child in need into their hearts and homes and express our profound appreciation for those who make foster care possible…”
Representatives of Alcovy CASA were on hand for the meeting and briefly expressed their thanks to the mayor and council for their support.
The city’s proclamation came on the heels of Gov. Brian Kemp’s signing of multiple bills Monday that essentially “cut the red tape” and make it easier for families to open their home to fostering children.
“Today, I am proud to sign legislation that will make it easier and more affordable to adopt children in the Peach State, allow grant tuition and fee waivers for eligible foster and adopted students at Georgia’s postsecondary institutions, and remove procedural hurdles for adoptive parents,” the governor said during Monday’s signing event. “Placing our kids in safe and loving homes is not controversial, and I am thankful to the General Assembly for working closely with our office on these important reforms in a bipartisan fashion.”
Bills Kemp signed into law made the following changes:
• Lowered the age requirement for Georgia parents to adopt children from 25 to 21.
• Made adopting children “more affordable.”
• Created opportunity to obtain tuition waivers for foster kids to attend in-state universities.
• Allowed judges to issue arrest warrants for state foster-care workers.
• Gave courts more data on children in foster care.
• Requires a former foster child and current or former foster parents on the state Child Advocate Advisory Committee tasked with evaluating Georgia’s child-protective services.
State Sen. Brian Strickland, R-McDonough, who represents a portion of Newton County, was one of many state leaders on hand for the Monday signing ceremony.
Last month, Kemp signed a bill into law that would boost the annual tax credit for new foster parents from $2,000 to $6,000 annually for the first five years after adoption. He also signed a bill one year ago that prohibits foster parents from engaging in improper sexual behavior with children in their care, closing a loophole in state law.
In other business, the Covington City Council:
• Tabled re-discussion of amendment 1 to Glover Street Drainage Amendment 1 to Glover Street Drainage Project to May 17 at the request of the city engineer.
• Approved the final reading of an ordinance amendment concerning parks. Horton said amendments included the addition of Heirloom Park, near the Welcome Center, and making a minor to verbiage pertaining to park hours.
• Approved an application to obtain license to sell alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption only for Sean Newton Spirits LLC dba Newton Package, located at 9197 U.S. Highway 278 in Covington.
• Approved the renewal of city’s annual maintenance agreement with Harris Technologies. Annual cost will be $221,266.92.
• Approved the purchase of a mini-excavator for the Gas Department for $54,000 to the bole bidder, Mason Tractor. Horton said the purchase fit the budget and no adjustments would be required.
• Approve a Right of Way Deed and a Right of Way Encroachment agreement for Carroll Street, pertaining to Clark’s Grove Subdivision - Phase 2 Final Plat, which was approved a previous meeting.
Horton also proclaimed April 29 as Kidpreneurer Day in Covington.
Capitol Beat Service contributed to this article.