by: Tom Regan Updated:CHEROKEE COUNTY, Ga. —
The Director of Georgia’s Division of Family and Children Services tells Channel 2 Action News the agency will institute a new program to help safeguard foster children and suspected victims of abuse.
“We are working with some national organizations, as well as stakeholders, on what we are calling a safety response system. And we are piloting it currently in two counties, Sumter and Richmond, and you’ll be hearing a lot more about those as we move to a new safety model,” said DFCS Director Ron Scroggy.
Scroggy provided Channel 2’s Tom Regan with details of the agency’s analysis of child deaths in 2012 in families that had a history with DFCS.
Of the 152 deaths, 35 were reported as accidental, 18 were homicide, six suicides, 51 natural, 27 undetermined and 15 are still pending.
Scroggy said the figures showed a decline over the year’s period.
“For the last four quarters, it’s gone down each quarter, but I wouldn’t read too much into that,” said Scroggy.
DFCS came under criticism following a Channel 2 Action News investigation into the beating death of a 4-year-old boy. The child’s mother and boyfriend were charged in the death and three DFCS case workers were fired.
Scroggy said some of the deaths last year, including 13 sleep-related suffocation deaths, could have been prevented.
“Children put in cribs with blankets, stuffed animals, bottles. Co-sleeping with a parent who rolls over in the middle of the night. A child left sleeping on a couch. It’s amazing how many children die because of some unsafe sleep-related issues,” said Scroggy.
The director said DFCS is weighing the impact of a $5 million cut in federal funding for next year.