When grandparents are the parents

Last week the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that Gov Nathan Deal said this about Georgia’s families where children are abused, or worse, murdered,“When was the last time the press or anybody else asked the greater family, ‘Why didn’t you do something about this?’ It really galls me, quite frankly, to see an able-bodied grandparent complaining about the fact that DFACS didn’t do something to protect her grandchildren. And my question is, well, where were you?’ ” (DFACS is the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services).

Where were these grandparents? US Census data from 2012 says this about grandparents and their grandchildren:

Number of grandparents living with grandchildren                    265,530
Percent responsible for grandchildren                                                  46.9
Percent of grandparents  raising  grandchildren for 5+ years          38.8
Percent of households with no parent of grandchild present           32.8
Percent of grandparents over 60 years old                                           34.1
Percent living in poverty in 2011                                                             25.2
Number of households with grandparents and grandchildren   171,939
Percent of all households in Georgia                                                        4.9

Grandparents in Georgia who care for their grandchildren are eligible for a whopping $50 per month from the state of Georgia. Have you priced diapers, day care, or children’s books lately? Fifty dollars doesn’t begin to make a dent in the costs of raising a child.

Single grandparent Deborah Paris, who is raising three grandchildren, told the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer “Our system will pay a foster care parent to take care of children and supply and do what they need for them,” she said. “But me, as a relative or actually grandparent, you give me little to no assistance. … Our system is just awful.”

We need to address multiple problems concerning the welfare of children in our state. Gov Deal shouldn’t begin by making grandparents the scapegoats where the state has failed.


Being asleep at the wheel is costing GA taxpayers

From Better Georgia

When it comes to expensive, frustrating and broken websites for government programs, the President’s got nothing on Gov. Nathan Deal.

Georgia taxpayers are shelling out nearly half a million dollars a week just in overtime pay to fix Gov. Deal’s broken system for Georgia’s neediest families – those applying for help to feed their families.

And, what does Gov. Deal think about this problem?

He told 11Alive’s Rebecca Lindstrom that, despite a November letter from the federal government warning that unless the state takes corrective action, $75 million in funding could be in jeopardy, he was unaware of the scope of the problem until recently:

I’d only become aware that it was of that magnitude just fairly recently.”

Gov. Nathan Deal, March 14, 2014

WATCH: DFCS spending $470,000 week in OT to fix food stamp backlog

For months, Georgia’s neediest families have found it almost impossible to apply for food stamps.

They’ve often waited on the phone for hours only to be disconnected.

Those who were lucky enough to have internet access got repeated error messages on the website. And thousands of Georgians who already qualified for assistance were accidently kicked off the program. In early March, DFCS officials acknowledged a 100,000 case backlog.

Half a million tax dollars each week in overtime costs.

$75 million of federal funds in jeopardy.

Thousand of families in crisis.

And Gov. Nathan Deal is asleep at the wheel – again – during a preventable crisis.

Sound familiar? It should.

Ignoring problems until they become a crisis that threatens the health and safety of Georgia families and costs taxpayers millions is an all-too-typical pattern for Gov. Deal.

This time, because the governor’s appointees invested in an out-dated, insufficient system to process applications for food stamps, Georgia taxpayers are now on the hook for nearly half a million dollars a week in overtime cost alone for the 2,000 DFCS employees who are struggling to fix the mess.

Despite spending nearly a half million dollars per week, callers are still left holding for hours and more than 44% of the calls still go unanswered.

Not being able to get their calls through is more than an inconvenience for Georgia’s 1.9 million recipients of food stamps. Getting cut off means going hungry or scrambling to get help from local charities – or both. Of those who qualify for food stamps in Georgia, 52% are families with children.

Nearly a quarter of those receiving food stamps are 6 years old or younger.

The media has been reporting on this growing crisis for months.

Yet, Gov. Deal was unaware?

We don’t know why the State of Georgia invested in a technology boondoggle, but we know, from his own mouth, that Gov. Deal just wasn’t paying attention. Now, instead of creating more problems for needy Georgians caught up in this crisis, Gov. Deal should wake up, pay attention and stop wasting our  tax dollars.

Call Governor Deal’s office today. Tell Gov. Deal that instead of making it even harder on Georgia’s neediest families, he should fix the system his political appointee broke. And, after you call, let us know how it went. Call now.

Bryan Long
Executive Director
Better Georgia

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