Georgia Code Title 49. Social Services § 49-5-12
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(a) As used in this Code section, the term “child welfare agency” means any child-caring institution, child-placing agency, children's transition care center, or maternity home.
(b) All child welfare agencies shall be licensed or commissioned annually by the department in accordance with procedures, standards, rules, and regulations to be established by the board. The board shall develop and publish in print or electronically rules and regulations for licensing or commissioning of child welfare agencies. Child welfare agencies electing to be commissioned rather than licensed shall operate in accordance with the same procedures, standards, rules, and regulations for licensing of child welfare agencies. A license issued to a child-placing agency shall be deemed approval of all foster family homes approved, supervised, and used by the licensed child-placing agency as a part of its work, subject to this article and rules and regulations of the board.
(c) The department shall assist applicants or licensees or persons holding commissions in meeting rules and regulations of the department for child welfare agencies and, if a licensee or person holding a commission is, for any reason, denied renewal of a license or commission or if a license or commission is revoked or if any applicant for a license or commission cannot meet department rules and regulations for child welfare agencies, the department shall assist in planning the placement of children, if any, in the custody of such child welfare agency in some other licensed or commissioned child welfare agency or assist in returning them to their own homes or in making any other plans or provisions as may be necessary and advisable to meet the particular needs of the children involved.
(d) Application for a license or commission shall be made to the department upon forms furnished by the department. Upon receipt of an application for a license or commission and upon presentation by the applicant of evidence that the child welfare agency meets the rules and regulations prescribed by the department, the department shall issue such child welfare agency a license or commission for no more than one year.
(e) If the department finds that any child welfare agency applicant does not meet rules and regulations prescribed by the department but is attempting to meet such rules and regulations, the department may, in its discretion, issue a temporary license or commission to such child welfare agency, but such temporary license or commission shall not be issued for more than a one-year period. Upon presentation of satisfactory evidence that such agency is making progress toward meeting prescribed rules and regulations of the department, the department may, in its discretion, reissue such temporary license or commission for one additional period not to exceed one year. As an alternative to a temporary license or commission, the department, in its discretion, may issue a restricted license or commission which states the restrictions on its face.
(f) The department shall refuse a license or commission upon a showing of:
(1) Noncompliance with the rules and regulations for child welfare agencies as adopted by the Board of Human Services which are designated in writing to the facilities as being related to children's health and safety;
(2) Flagrant and continued operation of an unlicensed or uncommissioned facility in contravention of the law; or
(3) Prior license or commission denial or revocation within one year of application.
(g) All licensed or commissioned child welfare agencies shall prominently display the license or commission issued to such agency by the department at some point near the entrance of the premises of such agency that is open to view by the public.
(h) The department's action revoking or refusing to renew or issue a license or commission required by this Code section shall be preceded by notice and opportunity for a hearing and shall constitute a contested case within the meaning of Chapter 13 of Title 50, the “Georgia Administrative Procedure Act,” except that only 30 days' notice in writing from the commissioner's designee shall be required prior to license or commission revocation and except that hearings held relating to such action by the department may be closed to the public if the hearing officer determines that an open hearing would be detrimental to the physical or mental health of any child who will testify at that hearing.
(i) Child-caring institutions and child-placing agencies, when licensed in accordance with this Code section, may receive needy or dependent children from their parents, guardians, custodians, or persons serving in loco parentis for special, temporary, or continued care. Parents, guardians, custodians, or persons serving in loco parentis to such children may sign releases or agreements giving to such institutions or agencies custody and control over such children during the period of care. Children's transition care centers may receive medically fragile children from their parents, guardians, custodians, or persons serving in loco parentis for special, temporary, or continued care to facilitate transitions from a hospital or other facility to a home or other appropriate setting.
(i.1) A children's transition care center shall serve no more than six children per residence or 16 children per campus at a time. Children's transition care center services shall be available to all families in this state, including those whose care is paid for through the Department of Community Health or the Department of Human Services or by insurance companies that cover home health care services or private duty nursing care in the home. Each children's transition care center location shall be physically separate and apart from any other facility licensed by the Department of Human Services under this chapter and shall provide one or more of the following services: respite care, registered nursing or licensed practical nursing care, transitional care for the facilitation of transitions to a home or other appropriate setting and reunion of families, medical day care, weekend camps, and diagnostic studies typically done in the home setting.
(j) Child-placing agencies, in placing children in foster family homes, shall safeguard the welfare of such children by thoroughly investigating each such home and the character and reputation of the persons residing therein and shall adequately supervise each home during the period of care. All children placed in foster family homes shall, as far as is practicable, be placed with persons of the same religious faith as the children themselves or the children's parents.
(k) It shall be the duty of the department to inspect at regular intervals all licensed or commissioned child welfare agencies within the state, including foster family homes used by such child-placing agencies. The department shall have right of entrance, privilege of inspection, and right of access to all children under the care and control of the licensee or commissionee.
(l) If any flagrant abuses, derelictions, or deficiencies are made known to the department or its duly authorized agents during their inspection of any child welfare agency or if, at any time, such are reported to the department, the department shall immediately investigate such matters and take such action as conditions may require.
(m) If abuses, derelictions, or deficiencies are found in the operation and management of any child welfare agency, they shall be brought immediately to the attention of the management of such agency; and if correctable, but not corrected within a reasonable time, the department shall revoke the license or commission of such agency in the manner prescribed in this Code section.
(n) The department may require periodic reports from child welfare agencies in such forms and at such times as the department may prescribe.
(o) Child welfare agencies and other facilities and institutions wherein children and youths are detained which are operated by any department or agency of state, county, or municipal government shall not be subject to licensure under this Code section, but the department may, through its authorized agents, make periodic inspections of such agencies, facilities, and institutions. Reports of such inspections shall be made privately to the proper authorities in charge of such agencies, facilities, or institutions. The department shall cooperate with such authorities in the development of standards that will adequately protect the health and well-being of all children and youths detained in such agencies, facilities, and institutions or provided care by them. The department may recommend changes in programs and policies and if, within a reasonable time, the standards established by the department and the recommendations of the department are not met, it shall be the duty of the commissioner to make public in the community in which such agency, facility, or institution is located the report of the above-mentioned inspection and the changes recommended by the department. If any serious abuses, derelictions, or deficiencies are found and are not corrected within a reasonable time, the commissioner shall report them in writing to the Governor.
(p) Any child welfare agency that shall operate without a license or commission issued by the department shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine of not less than $500.00 nor more than $1,000.00 for each such offense. Each day of operation without a license or commission shall constitute a separate offense.
(q) No person, official, agency, hospital, maternity home, or institution, public or private, in this state shall receive or accept a child under 17 years of age for placement or adoption or place such a child, either temporarily or permanently, in a home other than the home of the child's relatives without having been licensed or commissioned by the department. Notwithstanding the provisions of Code Section 49-5-12.1, violation of this subsection shall be punishable by a fine of not less than $500.00 nor exceeding $1,000.00 for each offense. Nothing in this Code section shall be construed to prohibit a properly licensed attorney at law from providing necessary legal services and counsel to parties engaged in or contemplating adoption proceedings. Nothing in this Code section shall be construed to prohibit an individual seeking to:
(1) Adopt a child or children from receiving or accepting a child or children in the individual's home in anticipation of filing a petition for adoption under Article 1 of Chapter 8 of Title 19; or
(2) Have that individual's child or children placed for adoption from placing that individual's child or children in the home of an individual who is not related to the child or children in anticipation of the individual's initiation of adoption proceedings pursuant to Article 1 of Chapter 8 of Title 19.
(r) The department may, without regard to the availability of other remedies, including administrative remedies, seek an injunction against the continued operation of a child welfare agency without a license or commission or the continued operation of a child welfare agency in willful violation of this article or of any regulation of the department or in violation of any order of the board.
(s) The term “licensed child welfare agency” shall include a commissioned child welfare agency and any references in this Code to a licensed child welfare agency, including criminal, administrative, and civil provisions applicable to licensed child welfare agencies, shall include and apply to commissioned child welfare agencies unless otherwise provided in this article.
Cite this article: FindLaw.com - Georgia Code Title 49. Social Services § 49-5-12 - last updated April 14, 2021 | https://codes.findlaw.com/ga/title-49-social-services/ga-code-sect-49-5-12.html
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