The Georgia Child and Adolescent Health Coalition

The Georgia Child and Adolescent Health Coalition (CAHC) was founded by Voices for Georgia’s Children, in partnership with the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2015. The CAHC unites advocates, service providers, universities, and state agency leaders to advance solutions that improve health outcomes for Georgia’s children, particularly those most vulnerable.

Goals of the CAHC

Share best practices from communities

Illuminate disparities

Identify policy priorities to expand what’s working well

Address what’s not working

2021 Legislative Priorities

Require transparency from insurers for denials of behavioral health care services

Our Priority:

To require insurers to submit behavioral health care denial data to the relevant departments (i.e., DCH, Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner) for parity compliance analysis, in order to ensure that behavioral health treatments are being covered to the same extent as physical health

Where We Stand:

This priority was partially addressed by Senate Bill 80 (Kirkpatrick-32nd), which was approved by the Governor. SB 80 requires insurers (including those entering into contracts with the Department of Community Health or care management organizations) to make prior authorization requirements readily accessible on their website and requires clinical criteria on which an adverse determination is based to be provided to healthcare providers at the time of the notification. It also disallows the requirement of prior authorization for emergency healthcare services.

Make COVID-19 flexibilities of telehealth policies permanent

Our Priority:

Department of Community Health make permanent current COVID-19 flexibilities of telehealth policies

Where We Stand:

This priority was partially addressed by House Bill 307 (Cooper-43rd), which now awaits the Governor’s signature, authorizes health care providers to provide telemedicine services from home and patients to receive telemedicine services from their home, workplace, or school and provides clarity regarding insurance billing of such services.

Expand the Georgia Apex Program

Our Priority:

Add funding for DBHDD’s Georgia Apex Program

Where We Stand:

In the FY22 budget, the Georgia General Assembly added $2 million to expand the Georgia Apex Program to 59 additional schools.

Increase number of school-based health centers

Our Priority:

Add start-up funding for school-based health centers via FQHCs

Where We Stand:

These monies were not added in the AFY21 or FY22 budgets, although funding was added for two federally qualified health center start-up grants in Jeff Davis County and Marion County (not specific to school-based health).

Restore funding to DBHDD cut by pandemic budget shortfall

Our Priority:

Restore Dept. of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities funding for child and adolescent mental health services lost in FY21

Where We Stand:

In the FY22 budget, DBHDD received monies for mental health and suicide prevention training in schools and a youth suicide prevention specialist. Further, the agency received more than $45 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds for both adult and child and adolescent mental health services. (See Voices’ breakdown of all federal American Rescue Plan Act funds per agency and division here.)

Expand waivers for food access

Our Priority:

Apply for federal waivers and implement all flexibilities and federal funding opportunities made available during the pandemic to support food access

Where We Stand:

Georgia DFCS has applied for the second round of Pandemic EBT, a benefit available for children who receive free or reduced price lunch in school via the National School Lunch Program.

Reduce housing evictions

Our Priority:

Keep families safely and stably housed by supporting legislation for a written notice and seven-day “right to cure,” or period in which to address the issue (e.g., non-payment), before a landlord may file for eviction

Where We Stand:

Unfortunately, House Bill 408 (Cooper-43rd) did not make it out of the House Judiciary Committee this year, though it remains viable for passage next year. HB 408 revises dispossessory procedures to require a written notice be provided to the tenant stating the amount past due or other basis for demand for possession of the property, and requires that the tenant be provided an opportunity to cure, or resolve the issue causing the initiation of the dispossessory (e.g., non-payment), within seven days of receipt of the notice.


    • Congress allocated $27 billion in federal emergency rental assistance funding via the American Rescue Plan Act to go to states and local governments to assist those in need. (See Voices’ breakdown of supports for children and families in the American Rescue Plan Act here.)
    • The House passed HR 52, a bill establishing a House Study Committee on Childhood Lead Exposure.

Where Georgia Stands

Why return to normal, when the “normal” we had was broken? Let’s define broken:


of Georgia's children were uninsured


of Georgia's children age 3 to 17 struggle to or are not able to access needed mental health treatment and counseling


Georgia households with children reported food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic

Big Wins Since 2019

Funding for children's mental health
In the SFY19 budget, Governor Deal made an unprecedented allocation of $24 million for children’s mental health services. The CAHC’s powerful letter submitted to the Governor with the Georgia Chamber, coupled with direct discussions with his policy advisor, led to his establishment of the Commission on Children’s Mental Health and new funding.
Greater access to Medicaid and SNAP applications online
The Coalition has long called for increased access to Gateway, the state’s benefits portal, which limited application inflow by restricting access to the workday for Medicaid and not allowing online initial applications for SNAP. After a strong, multi-pronged push, 24/7 access for Medicaid was opened and all SNAP applications can now be received online as of January 2020.
Reversal of state budget cuts to core services for children and families
Following Governor Kemp’s proposed budget cuts in January 2020, members of the coalition united to submit a letter to the House Appropriations Chair advocating for prioritized reversals of those cuts and the decision not to move forward with the next income tax cut. The pragmatic, data-driven approach helped achieve a budget passed by the House that addressed many of the asks.