Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed legislation on May 5 that will correct the discrepancies and technicalities in Georgia’s child welfare system, hoping to make the system more effective and better able to protect children from abuse.
The Republican governor said the legislation will give authority to Bobby Cagle, the director of the Department of Family and Children Services, to contact the governor directly with needs or problems of the program.
“There is perhaps nothing more harmful to a child than an abusive father or neglectful mother. But if there was, it would be a community that watched in silent disapproval, doing nothing. Georgia is doing something,” Deal said before signing the bill into law.
The legislation also allows foster parents greater access to their child’s medical and educational forms, The Associated Press reported.
The also creates a Child Abuse Registry to handle and assist in cases where evidence and reports suggest abuse has occurred.
One public case that sparked the reform movement was that of Heaven Woods, a 5-year-old girl who was beaten and murdered by her mother in May 2014. Heaven’s mother, Amanda Hendrickson, reportedly had a history with the DCFS, from pulling her daughter’s hair to visible bruises and scratches on Heaven’s arms, AJC News reported.
The legislation adds nearly 450 new employees to DFCS, which Deal says will help increase awareness and effectiveness of child abuse throughout the state.
“When we help improve the safety, capabilities and morale of our caseworkers and foster parents, we directly elevate the services provided to our children in need. We can increase the effectiveness of state government as we protect our children,” the governor said.
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