ATLANTA - Georgia's governor is vowing changes at the Department of Family and Children Services after two child deaths occurred despite earlier contact with the child welfare agency.
Gov. Nathan Deal told Channel 2 Action News he is promising a financial boost for the embattled agency and said DFCS will take a fresh look at every case it's closed over the past year.
Deal sat down one-on-one with Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant Thursday afternoon and admitted the hardest part for him has been trying to figure out what government can do to prevent child abuse deaths.
Deal told Diamant that the two recent child deaths in the Atlanta area have hit him hard.
"Well, it is to anyone, to understand the kind of trauma that children like that went through and lived in," Deal said.
Emani Moss, 10, and Eric Forbes, 12, are believed to have both died from
horrific child abuse by their parents just within the last few weeks, despite several previous DFCS contacts.
"Our goal is to try to make sure that as nearly as humanly
possible, these kind of cases will not be repeated," Deal said.
The first step was taken Wednesday when DFCS announced that two top child welfare supervisors were fired this week at the recommendation of the governor's Office of the Child Advocate's director.
"There were judgments or judgment calls that were made that were just unacceptable," said OCA director Tonya Boga.
Deal said step two will be his plan to spend $27 million to hire more than 500 new DFCS case workers and supervisors over the next three years.
Since 2007, DFCS records show the agency has lost nearly 900 case workers from sweeping state budget cuts, but revenues are ticking back up.
"We're going to put the money that we have and that is available to us in the most important places," Deal said.
He said he expects little if any opposition to beefing up DFCS'
"People realize that we do need to give them all the help that they can get," Deal told Diamant.
The governor said DFCS will also ramp up more intensive and more
up-to-date training for caseworkers and supervisors.
In the meantime, Deal said DFCS will review every case it's closed over the last year to make sure no other red flags were missed.