New reports shine a light on the concerns Georgia families and lawmakers say they have when talking about the care of children under the Department of Family and Children Services.
“There is nothing more fundamental than ensuring the safety of children,” said Senator Jon Ossoff.
Channel 2′s Ashli Lincoln had an exclusive review of several State Inspector General reports, that outline concerns coming from the Child’s Advocacy Centers of Georgia.
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These complaints launched several investigations done by the Inspector General along with the Office of the Child Advocate.
“We’re talking about very vulnerable children,” Ossoff said.
The state says they’ll be handing these reports to the Human Rights Subcommittee after Ossoff who serves as chairman initiated a bi-partisan federal inquiry into the Department of Human Services, that was launched last month.
“Part of this inquiry is meant to understand how some of these practices, potential misconduct or mismanagement, may have persisted for so long,” said Ossoff.
A June 2022 Inspector General’s Report reveals the Child Advocacy Center of Georgia reported seeing an increase in the number of DFCS home visits, which they alleged were done over the phone. The CAC claims in those cases, children stated their abuser often eased dropped on their calls with their case managers.
In a January 15, 2022 email sent from ‘Children’s Advocacy Centers of Georgia’ Chief Executive Officer Amy Booney to Department of Human Services Director Candice Broce, reports “unsupportive parents were standing at the door listening or even sitting in the room with them. Therefore DFCS closes their case when the child reports to them nothing is wrong.”
Inspector General investigators reported they could not validate those claims in the cases they investigated. They say without “specific case examples or specific DFCS offices listed, OIG cannot validate Boney’s claim.
A May 2022 report reveals as many as 10 children were being housed at a Fulton County DFCS office. Employees told investigators they were not able to make adequate sleeping arrangements nor provide nutrition for children.
The Department’s Consent Decree says no child should spend more than 23 hours at a DFCS facility. Investigators say this information was revealed after they questioned Fulton County DFCS employees who participated in an apparent protest of working conditions in the office. That protest took place on May 12, 2022, and involved 19 employees. Those employees told investigators they had concerns with safety, hiring of supervisory and management staff, salaries, and training.
An August report revealed investigators documented neglect by a case manager. The report reveals a 4-year-old Dooly County child died from neglect. Documents say the case manager took no action on the case for over a month The child’s parents reported not feeding or bathing the child at times. Investigators found the child’s mother never reported her child’s death. The state says family members reported to officials regarding concerns after not seeing the child for weeks.
The mother later reported to investigators, she found her child dead after waking up from a nap during the fall of 2022. She stated she did not call 911 because she didn’t have “life insurance.” The mother went on to tell investigators she wrapped her four-year-old son in a blanket and placed him in a bedroom, where she would occasionally lay with him when no one was home. She told investigators she eventually buried her son. His body wasn’t found until months after his suspected death.
The Inspector General noted, the case manager did have previous contact with the family. However, investigators note if she had taken more action, the child might still be alive.
Channel 2 Action News found many reports of neglect that happened prior to the appointment of current Department of Human Services Director Candice Broce.
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Broce expressed to lawmakers during the legislative session that some of this breakdown is a result of employment turnover and overwhelming caseloads. Channel 2 Action News has reported on the advancement of several senate bills, aimed to address inadequacies within the department.
Channel 2 Action News has reported the advancement of several Senate bills, aimed to address inadequacies within the department.
A spokesperson for Ossoff said the chairman is leading the bi-partisan inquiry into the mistreatment and abuse of foster children in the care of the state of Georgia. The spokesperson went on to say the investigation is ongoing and when the subcommittee has an update the Senator’s office will advise.
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