Let’s ROAR together to protect children, victims of human trafficking, and disparate communities in the state by supporting SB33, SB34, HB177, and HB178, and by contacting your legislator and asking them to prioritize Georgia’s children by passing a budget reflective of the whole child!
Protecting Children and Victims of Human Trafficking
SB33, SB34, HB177, HB 178 are a step in the right direction.
January marked Human Trafficking Awareness Month. However, reality reminds us that human trafficking is an everyday and yearlong problem. Last year alone, the FBI initiated 664 human trafficking investigations nationwide, resulting in the arrests of 473 traffickers.
HAPPENING IN FULTON: LEGISLATIVE UPDATE HUMAN TRAFFICKING provides an excellent overview of the legislative recommendations from the Georgians for Refuge, Action, Compassion, and Education (GRACE) Commission. These recommendations include: 1) name change privacy for survivors of human trafficking, 2) survivors of human trafficking would be allowed to pursue civil damages against their traffickers, and 3) persons seeking commercial driver licenses or renewals must undergo required human trafficking awareness training.
Relating to these recommendations are four bills before the current legislature. Senate Bill 34 and House Bill 178 would provide that victims of human trafficking may petition for name change under seal. Senate Bill 33 and House Bill 177 would provide a cause of action against perpetrators for victims of human trafficking.
Deborah J. Richardson, Executive Director of International Human Trafficking Institute, shared:
"Due to the hard work, of many, including the Interfaith Children's Movement, Georgia has a good track record of passing important legislation to support victims and hold predators and traffickers accountable. The current bills for consideration in this session are important ones, and we need to urge our elected officials to support them."
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
A few minutes of your time can make a difference. It takes minutes to share this important information throughout your network and to call or email your legislators. You can find your legislators here.Tell them to support legislation SB33, SB34, HB177, and HB178 protecting children and victims of human trafficking.
What Happens To Those Children Without Wifi During Virtual Learning?
About 1.6 million Georgians do not have access to high-speed internet.
As with most of last year and through this year, the Covid-19 pandemic continues to have a profound impact, more so on our children. The pandemic has highlighted significant issues worthy of legislative consideration and budgetary action.
A direct consequence of the pandemic is the transitioning of an in-person learning model to virtual. However, virtual learning is problematic for children who do not have access to broadband and the educational divide is heightened without internet access. About 1.6 million Georgians do not have access to high-speed internet, and in Georgia school systems with fewer than 1,000 students, 56% of households do not have high speed internet available (Source: With Georgia Classrooms Closed for the School Year, Digital Divide Emerges). It is incumbent on the legislature to recognize the need for affordable and quality high-speed internet access as a basic utility for all Georgia families.
The pandemic accentuates the need for healthcare and the readily available access of internet in rural communities and for disparate minority groups. In support of protecting the Affordable Care Act and expansion of Medicaid, Georgians for a Healthy Future notes “these groups are already shouldering the heaviest burden of the pandemic and face unfair barriers to care.” Likewise, the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute states over 470,000 Georgians would be able to see a health provider and not worry about facing medical debt if the state expanded Medicaid. Specific to children, Data from the Anne E. Casey Foundation shows in the fall of 2020, one in eight households with children lacked health insurance. Healthcare is vital to the wellbeing of all children.
The economic uncertainties of unemployment and struggles with maintaining housing as consequences of the pandemic are additional burdens for families. Yet, data from the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute indicates there is a correlation between the proportion of black families living in a state and access to direct cash assistance. Notably, the higher the proportion of black families living in a state, the more likely policymakers are to spend less on direct cash assistance and establish policies to control the way families in poverty run their lives, rather than simply giving them the direct aid necessary to meet basic needs. Georgia has the third largest Black population in the nation and in 2019, nearly 1.3 million Georgians lived below the poverty line, with one in five kids in poverty. Safety nets for the vulnerable must be protected and equitable.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? Contact your legislators and ask them where they stand on these and other child-focused issues. Tell your legislator to support legislation that prioritize Georgia’s children and pass a budget reflective of the whole child. If you do not know who your legislators are? Click here: https://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/
Saluting Everyday Heroes Who Have Hearts for Children...
Presenting: Dr. Qiana Johnson, the first Unsung Hero for February, Hearts for Children Month
Dr. Qiana Johnson has a beautiful heart for children. William Abdul-Khaaliq saw that in his friend and recommended her for an Unsung Hero award. This is just the first Hero you’ll meet during February!
Please, please, please! Recommend your own hero. Be sure to do it in February, the month of hearts….
Dr.Johnson was recommended for the category: Behind the Scenes
Why??? : “Dr. Qiana Johnson is a medical care provider who gives kind, tender, focused care. She is especially good to foster children that come into her clinic for physical exams. Many of these children have been separated from their families and have suffered unimaginable physical and/or emotional harm.
“They come to Dr. Johnson's Lotus Family Wellness Clinic traumatized, afraid and mistrusting. She takes extra time to listen, really listen to them. That is one of the first things she does. She kindly explains every step of the exam and any healing plans, giving them a sense of ownership over their bodies. She is honest and direct and down to earth as she educates them and the foster parent.
“She shows genuine care and love and finds lots of reasons to laugh with them. Laughter is the best medicine she gives to these children living with trauma. The children seem more at ease and happy in her care. Dr. Johnson is good to all of her patients, but she is especially caring to the foster children.”
Nominate the Community’s Unsung Heroes
Tell us about your big-hearted hero’s loving acts for children. Send a picture! ICM will post them all during the month of February in all our digital platforms! (Remember “unsung” is the key!) You know them… devoted teachers, mentors, workers with and for children, visionaries with big ideas and big hearts for the welfare of children. They are the unsung heroes for children. Unsung. Their gifts of love for children often continue for years without praise.
February, however, is the perfect month to sing their praises. Let’s make them blush!
Here are the categories:
Didn't Quit, Behind the Scenes, Most Inspirational, Beloved by Children, Intrepid Leader.