Georgia's Department of Human Resources web site.
Recent Changes in Georgias Child Protective Services System
- Child safety over family preservation. We no longer emphasize keeping a family together at all costs. New state and federal laws better define situations where children are at a high risk for abuse and neglect. They allow the state to be more aggressive in asking the court to terminate parental rights.
- Structured decision-making. In the past, the decision on whether to open a case or continue services was left to each caseworker and supervisors individual judgment and discretion. Now, all case managers use the same set of questions to determine the risk of recurrence of abuse or neglect.
- More attention given to high-risk cases. Each family with a substantiated case of child abuse or neglect is rated according to the risk they pose to the child (high, medium or low). In the past, all families had the same number of required contacts from DFCS usually one per month no matter how serious their case was. Now the number of contacts and services are based on the familys risk category; for example, the number of monthly visits to high-risk families has tripled.
- Caseload vs. workload. Case managers are assigned cases based on the number of high-risk cases they have, instead of just because they are next in line. This distributes the work more evenly across staff so they can meet contact guidelines.
Changes in Fulton County
- Seven Steps To Excellence. This checklist helps case managers make sure that appropriate and consistent action is taken on all cases at the appropriate time. All agency social service case managers have been trained on these steps and are using them to handle cases that the agency opens for treatment. The seven steps are:
- Home visits are made in a timely manner.
- Contacts with referral agencies, family, friends or others have been made.
- Family assessments are made in a timely manner and are included in the case record.
- Case plans are developed and in place.
- Safety plans are developed and in place.
- Follow-up and appropriate documentation are included in the record.
- Supervisory signatures are required.
- Good practices manual. Fulton County has expanded its Social Services Good Practices Standards Manual for case managers, incorporating new policies and procedures covering virtually every aspect of how to manage a case.
- CPS reviews. In 1997, Fulton DFCS asked the state DFCS office to audit all intake and treatment cases in child protective services that the agency maintained in December of that year. The findings revealed significant improvement in all areas over a similar audit done in the previous year. Fulton DFCS internal Quality Assurance Section began reviews of all CPS cases, one area office at a time.
- Case staffings. Fulton DFCS has established formal staffing procedures for high profile abuse and child fatality cases. After each serious incident, all staff who were ever involved with the case meet to develop an accurate chronology and timeline of actions taken by the agency. This evaluation session helps staff determine whether or not policies and procedures were properly followed. The process also targets areas where additional staff training may be needed.
- Accountability. The agency is requiring more accountability from all staff, especially managers and supervisors. This expectation is formally tied to the performance management process that mandates improved and more frequent dialogue between case managers and supervisors and administrators and area directors.
Georgia Department of Human Resources
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