The Georgia House approved legislation that would make it illegal for foster parents to have sexual contact with children they are caring for.

The legislation is part of a package of bills backed by Gov. Brian Kemp as he aims to overhaul the state’s foster care system.

House Bill 911 would make it illegal for a foster parent to engage in a sexual activity with those in their care, closing a loophole the legislation’s sponsor said exists once a child in foster care turns 16 — Georgia’s legal age of consent.

Acworth Republican state Rep. Ed Setzler said, in the rare instances where a foster parent has inappropriate sexual contact with those in his or her care, there currently is no legal recourse.

“Over the last number of years we’ve passed bills to prohibit teachers, counselors, probation officers, medical personnel from having sexual contact with people under their care,” said Setzler, who sponsored the bill. “This bill simply closes the loophole in prohibiting foster parents from having inappropriate sexual contact with their foster kids.”

The legislation imposes penalties depending on the extent of the offense, up to 25 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines when the child is older than 16.

Georgia First Lady Marty Kemp, who worked with Setzler on the legislation, praised passage of HB 911 on Twitter.

“This legislation closes a dangerous loophole in state law and protects foster children,” she said in a tweet. As it moves to the Senate, we’re asking for the same solid support!”

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