Child advocate puts pressure on DFCS

by: Aaron Diamant Updated:

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ATLANTA,None - The state's child advocate said her office is putting pressure on the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services.

Last month, a Channel 2 Investigation uncovered a recent spike in child deaths.

Since then, investigative reporter Aaron Diamant has pressed the Georgia Office of the Child Advocate for answers.  On Tuesday, GOCA director Tonya Boga opened up about specific action her agency is taking.

"We don't have an issue with talking to you about anything," Boga told Diamant.

Boga addressed concerns raised in Channel 2's investigation that found 35 children have died in Georgia since December 1, where either the child, or their families, had some sort of history with DFCS.

"I see us as a voice for the children of the state of Georgia."

Causes of death ranged from abuse to medical issues to unsafe sleep conditions. Boga said even though her review of the cases found no pattern of wrongdoing by DFCS, she still has concerns.

"We are constantly communicating with the Department of Family and Children Services as the oversight agency to make sure that the things we are concerned about are being addressed," Boga said.

Boga asked DFCS for an accurate count of caseworkers’ caseloads, and wants more training for caseworkers.

"I think there needs to be more training, and DFCS is working on that training," Boga said.

GOCA's ultimate goal is to cut down on cases like 4-year-old Nasir Patricks'. His mother's boyfriend is charged with the boy's murder, but three DFCS caseworkers were fired for not checking up on him.

Meanwhile, GOCA is ramping up its education efforts.

"Once people are informed as to types of deaths that can be prevented, people will be better able to act so that we can see a decrease in the number," Boga said.

Boga noted another step he hopes will help.  Starting in April, DFCS will institute a new standardized system for how all DFCS cases are evaluated statewide.