THE CENTER SQUARE – Higher tax incentives for adoption could result in Georgia revenue loss of more than $12M

THE CENTER SQUARE – Higher tax incentives for adoption could result in Georgia revenue loss of more than $12M

Gov. Brian Kemp’s proposal to increase foster care adoption tax credits could result in a state revenue loss of $12.8 million over the next five years, according to fiscal researchers.

Kemp wants the General Assembly to increase the annual tax incentive from $2,000 to $6,000 to promote more adoptions from the state’s foster care system. Rep. Bert Reeves, R-Marietta, has considered drafting a proposal of the bill, according to a fiscal note from the Department of Audits and Accounts….

Buzz Brockway, vice president of public policy for the independent, nonpartisan think tank Georgia Center for Opportunity, said that “a stable, healthy family is a crucial part” of success.

“At the very top of our policy agenda should be protecting the kids in the foster care system, and right alongside that is supporting these foster parents who are called to a mission unlike any other,” he said

 

Read the full article here

You Don’t Have To Be African American In Order To Appreciate Black History Month!

You Don’t Have To Be African American In Order To Appreciate Black History Month!

You Don’t Have To Be African American In Order To Appreciate Black History Month!

As I reflect on Black History Month, I remember when I first started working at the Georgia Center for Opportunity (GCO). Randy Hicks, GCO President and CEO, and I entered into a discussion about African American families. In reality, it should be called more of an awakening than a discussion.  

When one group does not succeed, it affects us all.

Randy spoke for several minutes on some of the experiences African American families were having within Georgia and across the country. For instance, the rate at which black people were getting married was drastically dropping while the number of single African-American parents was at an all-time high.  He asked me if I was aware of this plight within the black community and I said no. I remember asking him why did HE know so much about this group of people when he was so clearly not one of them, and his response was stunning.  He said, “It is important that ALL people flourish.”

When one group does not succeed, it affects us all. To this day, I am still amazed by that conversation, especially because I wasn’t aware of the horrifying statistics affecting my neighbors. After all my parents raised my sisters and me to know about Black History.

I had no knowledge about the state of African-American Marriages or the incredibly high out of wedlock birthrate.  As part of my work, I attended The African American Healthy Marriage Initiative conferences and I began to learn more.  This education has not only shaped my work but shaped my life in how I think and care for others.

Today, my life is devoted to helping relationships (of all kinds) be healthy and strong. If I’m not doing something to solve the problems, I am part of the problem. As Black History has taught us, it’s through strong individuals and communities coming together that we all become one and see success.

I am very thankful for my conversation with Randy almost 15 years ago.

About The Author

Joyce Mayberry

Joyce Mayberry

VP of Family Formation

As VP of Family Formation at the Georgia Center for Opportunity, Joyce works in the community to build strong families through local collaboration, event planning, and outreach.

Recognizing Black History Month Is About Recalling Where We Came From

Recognizing Black History Month Is About Recalling Where We Came From

Recognizing Black History Month Is About Recalling Where We Came From

Seeing Black History Month through the eyes of 114-year-old Gertrude Baines

To celebrate Black History Month, let me take you back to November 2008.

The morning of the election—an election that would make history with the victory of Barack Obama, first African-American president in U.S. history—a small headline appeared on websites and in papers: “At 114, a daughter of former slaves votes for Obama.”

Gertrude Baines celebrating 115 yearsGertrude’s story really typified the reasons why. She was born less than thirty years after the conclusion of the Civil War, during the presidential administration of Grover Cleveland—at a time when African Americans were often kept from voting and subjected to unspeakable abuses. Her life had overlapped those of many of America’s (and history’s) great black leaders, like Frederick Douglass (he died about six weeks prior to Baines’ first birthday), W.E.B. Dubois, Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

She had lived through some important milestones in the fight for civil rights and equal opportunity. She was 53 when Jackie Robinson jogged onto the diamond at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, 60 when the Brown v. Board of Education ruling was handed down, and 61 when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus.

She has also been witness to some of the most shameful moments in our nation’s history. She was 61 when 14-year-old Emmett Till was brutally murdered in Money, Mississippi, 69 when four black children lost their lives in a Birmingham church bombing, and just two days shy of her 74th birthday when Dr. King was assassinated. (Please take note: those are just the high profile abuses she witnessed as a senior citizen.)

Gertrude’s story reminds me of how exceptional and amazing American democracy is. How many other countries have elected ethnic minorities to lead them? Generally speaking, elsewhere in the world, such transitions don’t happen without military coups and civil wars. The fact is, America is exceptional in large part because of the many people of color who helped rise above and form it that way.

President Barack Obama taking his oath of office in January 20, 2009.

Can you imagine Gertrude’s parents ever having said to her, “One day you will cast your vote for a black man who will win the presidency”? I suspect they never could have imagined it. And yet, on November 4th of 2008, Barack Obama became America’s president-elect. And it was not by court order, legislative edict or military force, but by popular vote. The majority of American voters—black, white, Asian, Hispanic, etc.—chose him to be their leader.

The fact is, America is exceptional.

It’s worth pointing out that this is a trajectory we have been on for decades as evidenced by the fact that people of various ethnic backgrounds have been elected or appointed to become governors, lawmakers, cabinet secretaries, judges and so on.

We celebrate that this Black History Month.

Admittedly, I’m just a white guy from Orange County, California, now living happily in Atlanta. My ability to understand the plight of minorities in the U.S. is obviously limited. But I am a human. And I am able to recognize suffering, heartache and inhumanity when I see it. So I am also able to recognize both the source and manifestation of profound joy felt by millions of African Americans – and people of African descent worldwide—in seeing Barack Obama elected to the White House in 2008.

While that was a great moment, so much more remains to be done to ensure that everyone, of every color and ethnic background, has a legitimate opportunity to flourish. We’ve come a long way—but we have a long way still to go.

Gertrude Baines passed away in September 2009 at the remarkable age of 115—at the time, the oldest living person in the world. What a lifetime of progress she saw toward the realization of the American ideal—laid out (but not always carried out) by our visionary and courageous founders: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…”

And that’s why we at GCO we will be celebrating those who have contributed so much to our nation—those from the African-American community who, like Gertrude, remind us of what is great about this country.

Let’s make Georgia the best state to be a foster child

Let’s make Georgia the best state to be a foster child

Let’s make Georgia the best state to be a foster child

We can’t create flourishing communities without flourishing families—and foster care and adoption are crucial parts of achieving that goal. An alarming 97 percent of kids who age out of the foster care system without a stable connection to a family end up in chronic poverty.

At Georgia Center for Opportunity (GCO), we understand the importance that foster families play in creating stable environments for the most vulnerable in our society—foster children.

That’s why we were thrilled to recently welcome Georgia’s leading providers of adoption, fostering, and prevention services to our offices and to tour some of our state’s foster care community organizations. A particular highlight was welcoming Lynn Johnson, Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Administration for Children and Families, as part of the group.

Our site visits included allied organizations Faithbridge Foster Care, Bethany Christian Services, Foster Care Alliance, Connections Homes, and Promise 686.

Group photo of the GCO Foster Family meeting

The visits come as Gov. Brian Kemp and lawmakers in the Georgia General Assembly are pushing for legislation to reform Georgia’s adoption and foster care system, including increasing the tax credit for adoptions out of the foster care system from $2,000 to $6,000 for the first five years. The measure would also reduce the youngest age allowable to be an unmarried adoptive parent from 25 to 21, plus create a commission to recommend “systematic reform” in the foster care system.

We hope to see the foster community empowered through the current legislative session, so all of Georgia’s children can flourish—no matter their circumstances. For more, don’t miss this video of our panel on foster care and adoption from Breakthrough 2019.

In the end, we wholeheartedly agree with Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan when he said let’s make Georgia the No. 1 place for foster kids in the U.S.

THE CENTER SQUARE – Higher tax incentives for adoption could result in Georgia revenue loss of more than $12M

AJC – Parental paid leave makes inroads in Georgia after years of resistance

Three months of paid leave, maid service and a year of free diapers.

 

Those are among the parental perks the Midtown software firm SalesLoft is using to lure top talent through its doors — and keep them there.

SalesLoft is an outlier among companies in Georgia, which has long ranked among the bottom of states requiring paid leave benefits.

But that’s beginning to change amid record-low unemployment as businesses court workers, particularly in highly paid, white-collar fields such as tech and consulting…

“Our birthrates are the lowest ever,” the Pennsylvania Republican said at a Georgia Center for Opportunity event at Georgia Tech earlier this month. Moderate and lower-income workers, he added, “are having the hardest time figuring out how they’re going to raise a family.”

Read the full article here

Paid Family Leave Discussion – Establishing Healthy Lifelong Attachments

Paid Family Leave Discussion – Establishing Healthy Lifelong Attachments

Paid Family Leave Discussion – Establishing Healthy Lifelong Attachments

We know that healthy relationships and successful family formation are crucial to walking the steps of the Success Sequence. Strong families help individuals and children flourish. And we know that time with children, especially in their early years, is crucial to establishing healthy lifelong attachments.

The tougher question is how to foster these things from a policy standpoint.

At Georgia Center for Opportunity (GCO), we’ve come to realize that paid family leave is an important part of the puzzle—especially for low-income and impoverished Georgians.

For these reasons and many more, GCO hosted a discussion at Georgia Tech in mid-January dedicated to exploring options for a paid family leave policy. 

Watch the video below for more.