Empowering States: A Conservative approach to stronger Families and Communities

April 12, 2024

We all have an obligation to protect and nurture life. It is an obligation and a responsibility that is an inherent part of what makes us human. But for state leaders and policymakers, the responsibility does not end there; it is the first step. A compassionate, thoughtful, and empathic approach encourages efforts to support mothers, protect children, and create an environment that empowers strong families.

This week, the America First Policy Institute unveiled its HOPE Agenda, a four-pillar proposal that will advance health, opportunity, prosperity, and empowerment for women, children, and families. The agenda includes 20 policy prescriptions, the majority of which must be handled at the state level.

In Georgia, our elected leaders have been intentional in protecting life, with a ban on all abortions after six weeks, except in the cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother. Now, we should focus our attention on vulnerable children and families in our state by promoting life-sustaining initiatives in adoption and foster care.

Adoption and foster care face many significant and costly barriers that prevent families from pursuing this path. Prospective adoptive and foster parents are forced to run a gauntlet of obstacles, ranging from bureaucratic hurdles to financial strains. In a society that often bemoans the state of the family, it is surprising that more is not done to give opportunities to those who long to be parents and hope to those stuck in a system that makes them feel that the world has forgotten they exist. Our legislators are voices for those who have no voice and have a responsibility to act.

Resolving these challenges will require efforts to simplify adoption procedures, enhance support resources, and offer economic aid to families. To strengthen our adoption and foster care situation in Georgia, we must first confront the societal bias and misunderstandings associated with adoption and foster care. These paths to parenthood are frequently depicted as less desirable or less important than biological parenting, which reinforces negative stereotypes and dissuades prospective caregivers. By questioning these beliefs and embracing the variety of families created through adoption and foster care, we can establish a more welcoming and encouraging environment for all. The lack of a solid home life is cited most often by many who end up in jail and face the consequences of bad choices. As a society, we either help on the front end or end up paying on the back end.

Simplifying and expediting the adoption process can significantly encourage more families to consider adoption. This could involve reducing regulations and requirements, providing clearer guidance and support to prospective adoptive parents, and ensuring the timely completion of necessary paperwork. Additionally, offering financial assistance or tax incentives to adoptive families can help alleviate the financial burden associated with adoption. A good place to look may be matching the federal incentives for adoption. It has been done in other states and should get a look in Georgia.

Finally, we must increase support for foster families. Providing comprehensive support for foster families is essential to retaining them and encouraging others to participate. This support can include access to mental health services, respite care, training programs, and support groups. Ensuring foster parents feel valued and supported can lead to better outcomes for the children in their care and the families themselves. Again, another situation of fix now or pay even more later.

Families willing to open their hearts and homes to children in need are the true heroes, and it is time that those who selflessly give know we value their work. In mitigating the strain on our overwhelmed foster care system, we can reduce the number of children languishing in institutional care, hopefully moving them to a place in which they have love and greater opportunities.

Encouraging states to pass legislation emphasizing the importance of adoption and foster care, we reaffirm our commitment to a society that respects the sanctity of life and the inherent worth of every person. We aim to facilitate a compassionate and productive conversation that goes beyond political differences and strives for shared solutions in the pursuit of the greater good. We can all agree on this: Every child deserves a loving and stable home. By bolstering adoption and foster care services, we can achieve this goal.

The time has long passed for action in these areas. We must not continually get caught up in the discussions that lead us away from the fact that all life is precious, and we must do all we can to protect it at all phases of development. America is a country that has always valued life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Let us once again show that people are the best investments we can make!

Doug Collins is the Chair of America First Policy Institute-Georgia and a Colonel in the United States Air Force Reserve. He is a former U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 9th Congressional District, a seat he held from 2013 until 2021.

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