GEORGIA COALITION FOR
CHILD PROTECTION REFORM
c/o Paige Roberts
2430 Cherokee Road, #42
Athens, Georgia 30605
53 Skyhill Road (Suite 202) / Alexandria, Virginia, 22314 / (703) 212-2006
EVERY FACT MATTERS
May, 8th 2014
Evidence-based solutions, not hype and hysteria, will save children’s lives
Reducing the time child protective services workers spend on false allegations, trivial
cases, and needless removal of children is the best way to help overloaded child welfare
agencies find and protect children in real danger.
The worst thing Governor Nathan Deal could do would be to take $11 billion in scarce funds and redirect that money toward hiring more child abuse workers to intrude on more families and take away more children needlessly. Inevitably, that money will reduce the amount available for safe, proven programs to keep families together. It also will further overload child protective services agencies, making it even harder for them to find children in real danger.
Yet this is the proposal from the Governor’s office and its allies. Governor Nathan Deal and Senator Renee Gunterman mean well; they really want to protect vulnerable children. But those good intentions appear to have bred an ends-justify-the-means mentality? I don’t think so because there are children still dying at the hands of their abusers. In the name of advancing a noble goal that we all share, ending child abuse deaths. The Governor’s in past offices and their woe’s of reform have yet to show any signs of improvement through the Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) Child Protective Services division [1, Klein].
In 1999, the horrid death of Terrell Peterson a 5 year old beaten to death by his aunt and Grandmother, struck nationwide controversy among congressional’s that would begin a series of child welfare reform. Attorney, Don Keenan’s lawsuit demanded reform of such said children and then Governor Roy Barnes passed the Terrell Peterson Act which gave hospital doctors and nurses the power to take children of suspected child abuse. Last year, fall of 2013, Emani Moss two different cases but with the same failures by the state. If the state had completed monthly visits then this little boy may have been saved, and Emani Moss may still be alive.
In 2013, Journey Ann Cowart; 1 year old Journey beaten to death by her parents after reports to the DFCS office had been made. JOURNEY ANN COWART BEATEN TO DEATH BY HER MOTHER & HER MOTHER’S BOYFRIEND ONLY DAYS AFTER HER 1ST BIRTHDAY.
Why does it have to be when a child dies that government wants to step up and do what’s right by a child, these changes in the system only to come about after a series of articles in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution documenting Georgia’s failure to adequately protect children from abuse or neglect.
In a custody hearing concerning Boyd’s 5-year-old son, an angry Judge Averett tore into Boyd, saying “this is the worst case of child abuse this court has ever encountered,” a tape of the hearing shows.
She noted Boyd, who faces murder charges, invoked the Fifth Amendment when asked about “blunt force trauma on your child, whether or not you broke five ribs of your child, whether or not you inflicted trauma to cause anal bleeding, whether or not you bit this child, whether or not your boyfriend beat your child, whether or not you used methamphetamines.”
She continued: “You are either responsible for the death of your child, participated in the death of your child or failed to protect your child.”
Then she aimed at DFCS: ” I don’t know that there are words to describe the frustration that this court has for the complete failure of the department to make reasonable efforts” to find the child.
She noted that the agency made no attempt to follow up with family members who reported their fears, no efforts to run down addresses or phone numbers where Brandy might be staying, and that no report was filed.
If any of those things had been done, Averett concluded, “the court believes that we may not have a dead infant.”
Time and time again we hear that the agency made no attempt to follow up with family members who reported their fears, no efforts to run down addresses or phone numbers where Brandy might be staying, and that no report was filed. I believe this also goes for children who are taken away from their parents needlessly and put into foster care. Children like Justice Ann Cowart, these are the children that need to be taken from their parents and kept safe. Yet, DFCS sits by not heeding the warnings that would have helped saved her.
Even one child abuse death is one too many; It’s a sad sad day when social workers have no clue what to do in a child abuse matter. Someone said to me earlier on in my writing that Social Workers are not investigators and yes they only have a degree in social work not investigative work. There is some logic in that; the honorable Governor Deal has no idea what the state of Georgia needs to better protect its most vulnerable children from their abusers if he did he would know that revamping social workers would not be the answer in cleaning up this broken system.
Georgia Coalition for Child Protection Reform
[every fact matters, Wexler, Richard NCCPR]