While ‘Challenges Remain’ in Fulton and DeKalb Counties, ‘We Expect to See Continued Progress,’ Says Children’s Rights
(Atlanta, GA) – The latest report on the state of foster care reform in Fulton and DeKalb counties, filed yesterday in the federal court in Atlanta, notes that the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) has agreed to phase out the use of hotels as placements for children in foster care within these counties by June 30, 2017.
“Director Bobby Cagle and his team are dedicated to building a model child welfare system,” said Christina Remlin, senior staff attorney for Children’s Rights. “Although challenges remain, their dedication has brought about some substantial improvements in the system. With this leadership team, adequate resources, and an agreed roadmap to reform, we expect to see continued progress.”
The monitoring report covers the State’s performance between July 1 and December 31, 2015, on measures outlined in the Kenny A. v. Perdue consent decree. The report notes that DFCS achieved high marks on several safety measures, including: the completion of 99 percent of all investigations of maltreatment in foster care in 30 days; holding 98 percent of the required private monthly visits between case managers and children; and lowering the number of children who were victims of substantiated maltreatment in care.
However, the report notes Georgia DFCS is struggling in a number of areas beyond the use of hotels as placements, including workload problems: forty-eight percent of case managers had caseloads that exceeded upper limits, including 73 percent of permanency case managers, who are responsible for ensuring the safety and well-being of children in foster care; and high turnover.
The parties involved in the Kenny A. consent decree are aligning Director Cagle’s Blueprint for Change—a strategic plan designed to improve outcomes for children and families—with outcome measures in the Kenny A. action. Remlin applauded the effort to align the broader state initiatives and the governing consent decree. “We are working closely with Director Cagle and his team to streamline obligations and ensure that requirements are in keeping with current practices. By doing so, Georgia DFCS leadership can focus on the problematic areas that are impacting kids and move the reform effort forward.”
Children’s Rights and Bondurant Mixson & Elmore LLP filed the federal class action known as Kenny A. in 2002 on behalf of all children in foster care in Atlanta. In 2005, Plaintiffs’ counsel reached a court-enforceable settlement agreement with state officials, requiring Georgia to make specific reforms to the Atlanta-area foster care systems and to achieve specific benchmarks for progress.