Monthly Archives: March 2015

Advocacy ASK for this Week: Tell Your Legislator to Pass the Safe Harbor Bill

While the legislature is in session, the UUCA’s Promise the Children Advocacy group is enrolling the entire congregation in speaking up for Georgia’s children.

We are in the last stretch of the Georgia legislative session. Most of the activity last week was in the various committee hearings getting ready for the last days when a bill can be voted on in this session. Lots of bills will be heard this week in an effort to get them across the finish line by April 2nd.

 

traffickingThe “Ask”:  Contact your Georgia State Representative and urge him or her to Support Passage of SB 8 / SR 7.

The Why: Senate Bill 8 and Senate Resolution 7 are commonly referred to as the “Safe Harbor Bill,” and establish funding for services for sexually exploited/trafficked children, primarily in the realm of child welfare, family support, crisis intervention, counseling, and emergency housing. The bill adds traffickers to the State Sexual Offender Registry, and increases the statute of limitations allowing former child sex trafficking victims to file a civil suit against their traffickers up to the victim’s 25th birthday (current law is up to 23rd birthday)

The Message: Dear Representative _______________, Please vote “Yes” for SB 8 Safe Harbor/Rachel’s Law Act and SR 7 the proposed constitutional amendment, and let’s make Georgia a Safe Harbor for child victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking.  Child victims need restoration, not criminalization, and they should be afforded the full span of services needed. Thank you for your service and for all you do for Georgia’s children.

The How: Click here to contact your Georgia State Representative.

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Filed under Our Legislative Agenda, The Informed Advocate

2 Minute Advocacy Ask for this Week: Oppose the Georgia “Religious Freedom” Bill

While the legislature is in session, the UUCA’s Promise the Children Advocacy group is enrolling the entire congregation in speaking up for children.

The “Ask”:  Call or email your Georgia State Representative and ask him or her to vote NO on the so called “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (RFRA), Senate Bill 129.RFRA

The Why:  This bill would give wide latitude to people to disobey any law they don’t like based on any so-called “religious” objection they articulate–subject to limited, ambiguous, and undefined exceptions. The proposed law could well be interpreted to overturn Atlanta’s ordnance forbidding discrimination based on gender orientation.

Furthermore, the bill employs a very broad definition of “religious beliefs” saying it can be about any “practice or observance of religion, whether or not compelled by or central to a system of religious belief.” The intended and unintended consequences of this bill are huge: there is the potential that restaurants could refuse to serve gay or interracial couples, city clerks could refuse to marry interfaith couples, hotels could keep out Jews, housing developments could refuse to rent or sell to African Americans, banquet halls could turn away gay weddings, schools could specifically allow anti-gay bullying.

The list is long and daunting. People do many horrible things to children in the name of religion. For example, Georgia law makes it a criminal offense to perform genital mutilation on girls, as some people think their religion demands. The law specifically provides that religious belief does not excuse the crime. The proposed law might be read to override this legal protection for children.

The Message:  “Dear Representative _______________, Please vote “NO” on SB 129 the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (RFRA). This bill has nothing to do with religious freedom and everything to do with discrimination. Thank you for your service and for all you do for Georgia’.

The How:  Click here to find your Georgia State Representative and his/her contact information. Feel free to write to Governor Deal as well (click here to email him).  They BOTH need to hear from citizens of Georgia!

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Filed under Our Legislative Agenda, The Informed Advocate

2 Minute Advocacy Ask of the Week: Urge the Legislature to Improve Services for Children

welfareThe “Ask”:  Call or email your Georgia State Senator and ask him/her to vote FOR Senate Bill 138, the Child Welfare Reform Bill.

The When:  This bill is slated for vote this Friday, so it’s urgent that your senator hears from you by Thursday 4 P.M.

The Why:   Protecting Georgia’s Children from harm and neglect is one of the toughest jobs our government has.  To operate effectively, the Child Welfare Reform Council met repeatedly over the summer and fall and subsequently issued best practice legislative and policy recommendations for operating the state’s child welfare system.  SB 138 will enact some of the Governor’s Child Welfare Reform recommendations:

  • The Governor would appoint, pending the approval of the Senate, and have direct oversight of the director of the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS).
  • The bill establishes the DFCS State Advisory Board and better defines the makeup and obligations of county and regional DFCS boards.
  • The bill addresses the interagency sharing of data for the protection of children and allows a foster parent, as an agent of the DFCS, to have access to a child’s medical and educational records to ensure the proper care and education of a child entrusted to the foster parent’s care.
  • The bill also creates a central child abuse registry.

The Message: “Dear Senator _____________, Please vote for Senate Bill 138, the Child Welfare Reform Bill.  This bill will create the foundation the Department of Family and Children Services needs to better protect children and to help Georgia families thrive.  Thank you for your service and for all you do for Georgia’s children.

The How:  Click here to find your Senator’s contact information

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Filed under Ending Childhood Sexual Exploitation, Foster Care--Transitioning Youth, Our Legislative Agenda, The Informed Advocate

2 Minute Advocacy Ask: Tell Congress to Extend PeachCare for 200,000 Georgia Children

The What

Georgia’s PeachCare program could end soon.  Federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which supports PeachCare, expires in September 2015. We need Congress to act fast to extend funding before it expires.

The Why

Approximately 200,000 Georgia children receive critical prevention, early intervention and primary care through PeachCare health insurance. If Congress fails to extend funding, Georgia may be forced to eliminate this critical coverage leaving thousands of children without access to healthcare. The proposed state budget accounts for this funding. At minimum, maintenance of current funding levels and quality measures are required in order to continue quality coverage.

The How

Voices for Georgia’s Children says,

Take a minute to sign on to our letter encouraging support and the continued funding of CHIP. Our goal is to reach 100 signatures, and we are more than halfway there. We will send the letter to our Congressional Representatives to demonstrate the depth and breadth of support that exists across Georgia for CHIP and PeachCare.

Share one of our sample tweets below with just one click.

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Filed under Child Health--Insurance, Our Legislative Agenda, The Informed Advocate