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CAI Holds Congressional Briefing to Unveil New Report:

Shame on U.S.
Failings by All Three Branches of Our Federal Government Leave
Abused and Neglected Children Vulnerable to Further Harm
January 27, 2015

The federal government's dereliction allows states to fall short on meeting minimum child welfare standards. Below is information specific to Georgia.

CFSR Results Summary: In its Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) process, HHS determines whether each state is in substantial conformity with 7 specific outcomes (pertaining to the areas of safety, permanency and family and child well-being) and 7 systemic factors (relating to the quality of services delivered to children and families and the outcomes they experience).  In the first two rounds of the CFSR, HHS has concluded that Georgia was:

Round 1 (2001)

  • NOT in substantial conformity with 7 of the 7 Outcomes
  • NOT in substantial conformity with 3 of the 7 Systemic Factors

Round 2 (2007)   

  • NOT in substantial conformity with 7 of the 7 Outcomes
  • NOT in substantial conformity with 3 of the 7 Systemic Factors

Although federal law mandates that any state found not to be operating in substantial conformity during an initial or subsequent review must begin a full review within two years after approval of the state's program improvement plan, HHS has announced that Georgia will not undergo Round 3 of the CFSR until FY 2015 (see CFSR Technical Bulletin #7 (March 2014)).

Documents from the U.S. Health & Human Services Children's Bureau

Child Welfare Litigation*

  • Kenny A. v. Deal
    Children’s Rights, along with co-counsel Bondurant Mixson & Elmore LLP in Atlanta, filed this case against the governor of Georgia and state and county officials on behalf of a class of all children in Fulton and DeKalb County foster care (metropolitan Atlanta), and a class of African-American children in foster care, alleging violations of their federal and state rights to adequate protection and services while in state custody.   The Complaint alleged unlawful policies and practices of the Defendants, including: burdening caseworkers with dangerously high caseloads that prevented workers from visiting children and compromised safety oversight; placing children in deplorable emergency shelters and other unsafe facilities and homes; shuffling children in foster care among many placements; and denying basic health care.  The Complaint also included claims against county officials for violating children’s right to counsel in all juvenile court proceedings — attorneys assigned to children had caseloads of up to 500 children per attorney, making adequate and zealous representation impossible.
  • Harris v. Martin
    Litigation brought by Atlanta Legal Aid Society and others on behalf of Plaintiff, a grandmother seeking Adoption Assistance Program (AAP) payments for her two granddaughters, against the Georgia Department of Human Resources (DHR) and the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Plaintiff alleged that HHS violated the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 552, when it promulgated its 2001 Policy Announcement (ACYF-PA-01-01) without providing the appropriate notice and comment period. The 2001 policy announcement overturned previous HHS policy and required that a child demonstrate AFDC eligibility in the home from which the child was removed. Plaintiff sought declaratory relief and the reversal of the administrative law decision.

*litigation summaries taken from information provided by the websites of Children's Rights and the National Center for Youth Law,

Child Welfare In the News**

  • Foster parents dwindling as number of foster children grows (Athens Banner-Herald - January 18, 2015) Georgia is trying to rebuild its network of foster care in the Athens area after a planned privatization move didn't work out.
  • Child deaths related to maltreatment on the rise in Georgia (Morris News Service - January 16, 2015) The report from the state Child Fatality Review Commission also noted that sleep is a factor in most unexpected deaths of infants. Experts say the majority are cases of infants suffocated from sleeping on their stomachs or having an adult roll over on them in bed. Information Gateway resource:
  • Senate again takes aim at Georgia child welfare agency (Atlanta Journal Constitution - January 15, 2015) Senate Bill 3, which will be introduced in the chamber when lawmakers next convene Jan. 26, would allow a struggling parent to give temporary custody of their children to a friend or person they know for up to one year as they get back on their feet.
  • Child Welfare Group Recommends Improvements (Associated Press - January 09, 2015) A group reviewing Georgia's child welfare system says officials should improve internal communications at the Division of Family and Children Services and bolster the agency's relationship with law enforcement.
  • Foster Care Privatization Put On Legislative Back Burner (Includes audio) (WABE - January 09, 2015) That's the takeaway from a much-anticipated report released Friday by the governor's Child Welfare Reform Council, which had been tasked with finding ways to improve the state's beleaguered child welfare system.
  • Gov. Deal announces plan to improve DFCS (WGCL CBS 46 - January 09, 2015) Governor Nathan Deal announced a new set of recommendations to improve the Department of Family and Children Services system in Georgia. Also: Governor Deal unveils outline to aid child welfare:
  • 12 Ways Black Children Are Discriminated Against in Foster Care System (Atlanta Black Star - December 29, 2014) Race correlates with involvement in the child welfare system more closely than poverty. While there are local variations, Latino children have not traditionally been overrepresented in foster care, while African-American and Native American children represent double the percentage of the foster care population than they do in the general child population. Information Gateway Resource: Addressing Disproportionality Through Policy Change:
  • Audit finds misspending, mismanagement at DFCS (WSBTV - December 17, 2014) An internal audit found mismanagement and misspending at the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services. The agency says it's already taken steps to fix the problems identified.
  • DFCS records show challenges to protecting children (Georgia Health News - December 04, 2014) An analysis of disciplinary actions throughout the state found many employees received multiple chances - through strongly worded criticisms - to improve their performance before facing termination. They were given conferences, work plans, attendance plans and memoranda of concern before being handed a written reprimand and final warning. The reprimands were issued against supervisors as well as frontline workers.
  • DFCS disciplinary records show child safety challenges (Rome News-Tribune - December 02, 2014) The disciplinary records show many children in a variety of potentially dangerous situations. They also show DFCS workers juggling many cases simultaneously.
  • Like sister state, Georgia fares ill in child welfare (Columbus Ledger-Enquirer - December 02, 2014) Fully one-third of Georgia's children were living with parents who do not have secure (or any) employment, up from 28 percent just four years earlier. Eleven percent of Georgia's teens were neither in school nor working at a job, a figure unchanged since the last tally.

**news summaries taken from daily newsfeed service of HHS' Child Welfare Information Gateway


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Children's Advocacy Institute
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