Child advocate discusses potential impact of Ga.’s Heartbeat Law on foster care
SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Georgia’s Heartbeat Law is officially in effect.
The executive director at Brightside Child & Family Advocacy, Kate Blair, says the child welfare system is overburdened right now. She says it’s understaffed and underfunded and because of this crisis they’re in she says the Heartbeat Law has the potential to make the crisis even worse.
“We’re all very focused at what happens inside the womb on both sides of the aisle. We also need to be very focused on what happens after the child is born,” Blair said.
Georgia’s Heartbeat Law bans most abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which typically occurs in the sixth week of pregnancy. There are exceptions for rape and incest. It also allows for later abortions in cases like if a mother’s life is at risk.
“No matter where you stand on this issue it’s all our responsibility to support these children. We can’t care about crime; we can’t care about poverty if we’re not willing to support the children who are most likely to end up in poverty and end up in the criminal justice system,” Blair said.
Blair says right now, in Chatham County alone there are 310 children in the foster care system.
“We are really just focusing on the crisis here now knowing that down the pipeline we’re going to see an increase,” she said.
Blair says while they can’t predict how many more children could end up in foster care because of the law, they do know one thing for sure.
“We don’t have the resources for what we have now.”
Blair says if a family can’t support these children, it falls on the community to support them. Right now, she says, the DFCS and local child advocacy centers need help.
“It’s really important that we rely on our priorities as a state and as a community and invest in that system so that we can support the most vulnerable that we have,” Blair said.
Blair said with the law in effect what people can do now is support legislation that increases funding for the child welfare system and support organizations like theirs that serve these children. She says people can also get involved by being a foster parent or volunteer with them.
Copyright 2022 WTOC. All rights reserved.