ATLANTA — A new report shows that Georgia's child protection agency has identified serious problems in how the agency investigates reports of child abuse and neglect.
The agency is acknowledging "significant gaps" in its performance, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported (bit.ly/241l0Hx).
The admission appears in a new report analyzing deaths in 2014 of children whose families had histories with the Division of Family and Children Services, or DFCS, the newspaper reported.
DFCS had closed cases on the families of about half the children who died in 2014. Fourteen died in homicides — six in the first 12 months after DFCS ended its involvement with their families. The rest of the children, including nine homicide victims, were in families under active DFCS supervision.
The new DFCS report, in a section headed "Systemic Factors," said the agency "recognized significant gaps in the delivery of services and meeting the expectations of the citizens of Georgia." It added: "Special consideration should be given to lessons learned from child deaths."
This year, the agency is introducing a new "practice model" intended to guide caseworkers dealing with volatile families suspected of maltreatment, the Journal-Constitution reported. It also will begin meeting with every child who is the subject of an abuse or neglect report before deciding whether to open a formal investigation or refer the family to less intrusive services, such as parenting classes or counseling.
For now, DFCS Director Bobby Cagle said, the agency faces "a recipe for disaster" created by persistently high caseloads and a 36 percent annual turnover rate among its caseworkers.
"That does not make providing high-quality services a realistic outcome," Cagle said.