Child Welfare Reform Bill Becomes Georgia Law
ATLANTA (May 7, 2015) | On May 5, 2015, Gov. Nathan Deal signed a bill into Georgia law that will reform the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) and provide greater accountability for child abuse records. The bill also creates DFCS advisory boards and establishes specific measures related to case records. Sen. Butch Miller (R – Gainesville), the bill’s sponsor, was on hand for the signing ceremony held at the Georgia State Capitol.
“Tragic accidents should not happen under the watch of our child welfare system, and this legislation addresses many constituent concerns regarding reporting, information collection and oversight. I’d like to thank Gov. Deal for signing this important piece of legislation and his support of a bill that will better protect the families served by DFCS,” said Sen. Miller.
SB 138 will become effective on July 1, 2015. The following operational, data-sharing and record-keeping procedures for DFCS will be implemented over the next few months:
- Appointment of DFCS Director: The Governor will appoint the position of DFCS director, with the Senate confirming the appointment. The director reports directly to the Governor, but will be considered an employee of the Department of Human Services (DHS)
- Creation of DFCS State Advisory Board: This Board will be charged with the periodic review and recommendation of proposed DFCS rules and regulations. The DFCS director will submit quarterly reports to the Board and participate in quarterly meetings.
- Creation of DFCS Regional Advisory Boards: One Board will be created for each of the 15 DFCS regions.
- Change in Size of County Family and Children Services Boards: The size of county boards will be increased from five members to a maximum of seven members.
- Creation of a File-Sharing and Data Collection System: DHS will develop and implement a system in which to collect and share information related to care and protection of children. DHS will work with DFCS, the Department of Early Care and Learning, the Department of Community Health, the Department of Public Health, the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Department of Education, and the Georgia Crime Information Center to establish protocols for data collection and sharing.
- School Access to Records: School officials will be able to access to reports concerning alleged child abuse victims during an ongoing investigation. Foster parents will be able to access both medical and educational records.
- Creation of a Central Child Abuse Registry: An archive of substantiated cases and reported convictions of child abuse will be compiled into a central registry. The Registry will notify DFCS of investigations and convictions via prosecuting attorneys and investigators. Records will be confidential, and providing false information is subject to criminal punishment.
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For Immediate Release:
May 7, 2015
For Information Contact:
Jennifer Yarber, Director