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Atlanta Foster Children at Risk as Georgia Fails to Make Court-Ordered Child Welfare Improvements

ATLANTA, GA — A court-ordered monitoring report of the Atlanta foster care system released today shows limited progress amidst serious problems, including failure to monitor children’s safety in foster care. The report is the second under a 2005 federal court settlement between Georgia and national watchdog group Children’s Rights. Today’s report shows Georgia has failed to meet benchmarks required by the settlement in 14 of 24 areas pertaining to the safety and wellbeing of approximately 2,800 children in foster care.

“This has been a terrible system for many years, and the limited progress shown in this report sure doesn’t make it a good system,” said Ira Lustbader, associate director of Children’s Rights. “There’s no excuse for the significant failures found in this report, which are putting abused and neglected children at further risk every day.”

Today’s report covers Georgia’s performance from July 1, 2006 through December 31, 2006. It shows some progress, such as zero reports of corporal punishment used on foster children and only occasional placement of children in overcrowded foster homes (8% of cases reviewed). However, the data also show severe problems putting children in jeopardy, including:

Children’s Rights, along with the Atlanta law firm of Bondurant, Mixson and Elmore, filed its foster care reform lawsuit in 2002 against Governor Perdue and state officials responsible for the Georgia Department of Human Services and its Division of Family and Children’s Services. The class action suit, known as Kenny A. v. Perdue, charged that the foster care system in Atlanta was underfunded, mismanaged and failing to protect the safety and wellbeing of children in state custody. The 2005 settlement requires Georgia to make sweeping reforms to its foster care system in the metropolitan Atlanta area and to meet specific reform goals in service to children.

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