Reprinted with the permission of the Atlanta Journal and the Atlanta Constitution.

The case of Kathy Jo changed foster care
Jill Young Miller - Staff
Saturday, April 6, 2002

Kathy Jo Taylor, a Gwinnett County 2-year-old, was placed into foster care over the objections of her aunt and grandmother. They said they were Kathy Jo's family and should raise her. In 1982, Kathy Jo was permanently brain-damaged from injuries she received while in foster care. She died in 1997 at age 17.

Her death led to a federal court ruling that Georgia could be held responsible for foster children's injuries. The state settled the case and changed the way it monitored foster children. Among the reforms established:

> Corporal punishment is "absolutely prohibited" by foster parents.

> Caseworkers must make every effort to place children with relatives.

> Potential foster parents must be screened, including a criminal records check.

> Caseworkers must have a face-to-face visit with foster children at least once a month.

> The state must immediately investigate any suspected abuse of a foster child and decide within 48 hours what to do with that child.

The Taylor case lifted the shroud of immunity that previously protected government workers from being sued.

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