• DFCS to examine cases with higher scrutiny following Heaven Woods' death

    By: Kerry Kavanaugh


    ATLANTA - During his third day on the job, the Division of Family and Children Services new interim director told Channel 2 Action News he is committed to making sure that nothing like the Heaven Woods case happens again.

    Bobby Cagle said Heaven’s case has solidified his determination to make sure the state does everything it can to protect its children and not allow history repeat itself.

    "Heaven Woods' case file was 661 pages. Are you concerned there are more Heaven Woods out there?” Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh asked him Wednesday.

    “As a Georgia citizen and a new director here at this division, my hope is that is not the case,” Cagle said.

    Cagle said it is now his job to find out. He said he has asked for a review of all child protective services files, especially those with multiple complaints of abuse.

    “I think we have to give a higher level of scrutiny to those cases,” he said.

    Cagle said it is too soon for him to say whether more scrutiny could have saved Heaven.

    First responders found the 5-year-old badly beaten and unresponsive in a Monroe County home on May 20.  An autopsy revealed the child died of blunt force trauma and that she had multiple injuries to her body, old and new.

    Heaven's mother, Amanda Hendrickson, and Hendrickson's boyfriend, Roderick Buckner, now face murder charges.

    Kavanaugh spent most of Wednesday plowing through the 661 pages that detail the nine times state case workers responded to complaints that Heaven was being abused. The most recent complaint came May 1, less than three weeks before she died.

    According to the file, the DFCS case worker concluded: “Child is safe because xxx is protective and will remain safe because the child is around mandated reporters at her daycare.”

    State involvement spans much of Heaven’s short life. In 2011, case workers assessing the child wrote: “Two case managers went to the home, at no time was the child ever covered in bruises."

    “We had not made contact between the investigator and the person who originally witnessed the incident,” Cagle said.

    Cagle said that's an immediate policy change. Case workers must speak directly to the person reporting the abuse.

    As Channel 2 Action News reported last month, Woods’ father said he had made his concerns about Hendrickson known to the state, but it is unclear if case workers ever followed up with him directly.

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