ATLANTA – State lawmakers passed a tax credit increase for foster parents in Georgia to encourage more adoptions to play a major role in Governor Brian Kemp’s legislative priorities this year.
The tax credit, sponsored by Rep. Bert Reeves, R-Marietta, would increase the annual tax credit for new foster parents from $ 2,000 per year to $ 6,000 per year for the first five years after adoption, and then drop back to $ 2,000 per year. The loan would end when the foster child turns 18.
Senator Bo Hatchett, who carried Reeves’ Senate bill and is a senior governor’s representative, said the loan increase is aimed at encouraging more adoptions in Georgia.
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“This bill saves the state money, while this bill provides much-needed support to families who open their hearts and homes to children,” said Senate Hatchett, R-Cornelia.
Hatchett’s bill was passed unanimously in the Senate after it was also passed unanimously in the House of Representatives earlier this month, and is now going to Kemp’s desk to sign it.
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The number of children in foster care in Georgia has declined over the past three years, but remains high, according to the state Department of Family and Children’s Services. The state currently has about 11,200 children in foster care, up from 15,000 in March 2018.
Kemp has made care a legislative priority for its administration, along with combating human trafficking and gang activity.
Along with Hatchett’s move, Kemp has supported other bills currently going through legislature, including one that would lower the minimum age for adults to adopt children from 25 to 21 years old.
A third bill would add more training for juvenile court officials, expand the rules for parents under court-ordered alternative care, and require officials to report on a range of child abuse treatments, including abandonment, neglect, emotional abuse and exposure to chronic alcohol – or drug use.
These measures follow Kemp’s signing of a law last year prohibiting foster parents from engaging in inappropriate sexual behavior with children in their care, filling a loophole in applicable state law.