Senate leaders are giving strong backing to a bill allowing struggling parents to give a friend temporary custody of a child.

Sponsor Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, said that SB 3 would let families avoid involvement with the Division of Families and Children’s Services. Children in the DFACS system have told her of being sent to 20 different foster families by age 18, she said at a press conference this week to announce the Senate Majority Caucus’ legislative agenda. Legislation last year allowed a grandparent to receive temporary child custody, and the new bill broadens the scope to trusted friends.

Unterman told InsiderAdvantage Georgia Tuesday that the bill has been assigned to the Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee, which she chairs. She has not decided when to schedule the committee’s hearing on the bill.

The legislation allows a family to transfer custody and give power of attorney to a friend for a year. President Pro-tem David Shafer, R-Duluth; Majority Leader Bill Cowsert, R-Athens; Majority Caucus Chair William T. Ligon Jr., R-Brunswick; Majority Whip Steve Gooch, R-Dahlonega; and State and Local Governmental Operations committee chair John Albers, R-Roswell, are co-sponsors.

Unterman described the legislation to InsiderAdvantage Georgia as a “preliminary intervention” measure to prevent a worsening family crisis. She gave the example of a single mom with two or three children holding a couple of jobs. If she loses one of the jobs, she would able to turn to a close friend to take one of the children until she could recover. 

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