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3 in 4 women, who "age out" of foster care, many of them with children of their own, are receiving some form of public assistance.
Georgia CPS News Archive
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Georgia News Coverage
GA State Agency Admits Problems In Reviewing Child Abuse Cases
A new report shows that Georgia's child protection agency has identified serious problems in how the agency investigates reports of child abuse and neglect.
The newspaper reports that the admission appears in a new report analyzing deaths in 2014 of children whose families had histories with the Division of Family and Children Services, or DFCS.
February 14, 2016
Heavily armed drug cops raid retiree's garden, seize okra plants
Georgia police raided a retired Atlanta man's garden last Wednesday after a helicopter crew with the Governor's Task Force for Drug Suppression spotted suspicious-looking plants on the man's property.
The officers eventually apologized and left, but they took some of the suspicious okra leaves with them for analysis. Georgia state patrol told WSB-TV in Atlanta that "we've not been able to identify it as of yet. But it did have quite a number of characteristics that were similar to a cannabis plant."
October 19, 2015
New welfare system law to improve communication
Communication among child welfare groups and foster parents will soon improve thanks a welfare system reform law.
Senate Bill 138 was signed into law by Governor Nathan Deal on Tuesday. It gives the director of the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) a more direct line to the governor. The new law will create district and state level advisory boards that will help with making rules and delivery of services in DFCS.
May 5, 2015
Some Students Headed Home After Raid At Christian School In Southeast Georgia
Several foreign students taken from a Christian school in southeast Georgia remain in state custody after a juvenile court hearing Friday morning in Long County.
Sellars says the church-run school began its international student program about four years ago as an offshoot of its religious mission. "These students would have an opportunity to get an education, participate in extracurricular activities, but it would also provide us an opportunity to share the gospel with them," Sellars says. About 30 students - most of them older teenagers - were living in the school gymnasium's second floor until this week's raid by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. Sellars says they came from countries including the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and the British Virgin Islands, although he says some were U.S. citizens.
March 27, 2015
Georgia's child protection agency faces lawsuit in malnourished girl's death
Georgia's child protection agency is facing a $1 million lawsuit in the death of a malnourished 14-year-old girl who weighed 43 pounds when she died in June in Smyrna.
WSB-TV reports that the administrator of Markea Berry's estate filed the seven-page complaint. It alleges that the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services made several missteps in its handling of the case.
June 17, 2014
Georgia adding case workers for troubled DFCS program
Georgia is hiring 175 case workers for its troubled DFCS program, with the new employees all expected to be on board by July 1. They can't arrive soon enough for some areas of the state.
"As of last week, there were a small number of caseworkers in Cherokee, Gwinnett and Cobb [counties] with caseloads of approximately 100,'' Ravae Graham, a DHS spokeswoman, said in an email to GHN. These caseloads were mostly combinations of investigations, family support or family preservation cases, she said. In the last six months, the number of reports of abuse or neglect made to DFCS has risen from an average of 6,000 reports per month (March 2013 through August 2013) to 7,300 per month (September 2013 through March 2014), Graham said.
May 30, 2014
Georgia's Push to Privatize Foster Care Fails
A push to privatize the child welfare system in Georgia failed in the final hours of the state's legislative session Thursday.
The bill, which was introduced by the state senate in February, aimed to begin contracting out most child welfare services - like adoption and case management - to private agencies by the summer of 2017. But the state House pushed for a scaled-down version of the bill, calling for two-year pilot programs in three of the state's districts to test the waters. While the state Senate agreed to the pilot programs, the bill fell short of passing in the end.
March 21, 2014
Police: Ga. girl, 10, weighed 32 pounds at death
LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. - A 10-year-old girl weighed just 32 pounds when her burned body was found last week in a trash bin, a Gwinnett County police detective testified Friday.
The father and stepmother of Emani Moss have been charged with murder, concealing a body and child cruelty. Both were in court for a probable cause hearing Friday.
November 8, 2013
Clermont church hosting meetings on 'foster care crisis'
FaithBridge Foster Care, a Christ-centered foster care placement agency, invites the public to learn about the Hall County "foster care crisis" at one of three meetings this month at Concord Baptist Church in Clermont.
Foster care is a large problem, but the Christian community is even bigger. We want to engage members of the community in the foster care ministry and share its impact on families and children, said Bill R. Hancock, co-founder and CEO of FaithBridge. Churches can partner with established agencies like FaithBridge and together, we can provide a safe, stable solution to the needs of hurting children and families.
August 12, 2013
Given up for adoption, but not for lost
Spurred by a deathbed promise to her grandmother, a woman wins a 15-year battle with social workers to be reunited with her younger siblings.
When Marilyn was 4 and her brother Aubrey was 3, she packed peanut butter and they ran away from their abusive foster home. Racing across California desert roads, they imagined reaching Barbie's house and a world of play and safety. But authorities returned them to the home a few hours later. Their foster families changed frequently after that, as well as their surroundings. As they packed and unpacked, Marilyn carried a few fleeting memories of her real family. Aubrey had none.
April 17, 2013
Georgia Program Reopens Foster Care Cold Cases
In far north Georgia, 17-year-old "Brandon" lives in a group home. He has been the ward of two states in his short life. Put up for adoption in Tennessee, adopted, then abandoned in Georgia. He's been in foster care for eight years.
There are somewhere between 250 and 300 kids like Brandon in Georgia: foster youths whose lives are stuck in a slide toward aging out of the foster system and into potential homelessness or prison, and with no connection with any family. They also risk a plain lack of success.
April 8, 2013
Mom: I posed as 12-year-old daughter to catch child predator
A 12-year-old child's mother thought she was taking all the right steps to protect her child from the dark side of the internet.
She never allowed her daughter on Facebook alone. She was in charge of the password and the content that was posted, but police say that didn't stop Brian Sikes, 23, from messaging her child with the intent of meeting for sex. The mother began working with police immediately and posed as the child on the phone to see how far Sikes would go.
March 29, 2013
Grand jury indicts 35 teachers, officials in Georgia cheating scandal
In what has been described as one of the largest cheating scandals to hit the nation's public education system, 35 Atlanta Public Schools educators and administrators were indicted Friday on charges of racketeering and corruption.
The indictment is the bookend to a story that was once touted as a model for the nation's school districts after the district's test scores dramatically improved in some of its toughest urban schools. Among those indicted by a Fulton County, Georgia, grand jury was Beverly Hall, the former schools superintendent who gained national recognition in 2009 for turning around Atlanta's school system.
March 29, 2013
Free-range, grass-fed: Demand for organic foods driving Cobb's current backyard chicken dilemma
Farming in Cobb County was once done on rural landscapes and wide-open vistas populated by a few far-flung silos and farmhouses. Not anymore.
Today's Cobb County farm is only a few acres and likely to be surrounded by strip shopping centers and subdivisions. When the cock crows at one of these "urban farms," someone's going to hear it. When manure is hauled out of a coop, someone's going to smell it. These two worlds can coexist, say those who follow the organic and eat-local movements, but that doesn't mean tensions won't rise on occasion, as they did last week at a public hearing on the county's chicken ordinance.
January 30, 2013
YMCA offers P.E. program to homeschool students
CANTON - A physical education program for homeschool students is gaining momentum by offering similar programming seen in traditional schools for children who are educated at home.
The homeschool P.E. course, offered at G. Cecil Pruett Community Center Family YMCA in Canton, has more than 50 local homeschool students participating after fewer than three years of operation. YMCA Aquatic and Wellness Director Peggy Donaldson said the program started out with fewer than 20 students and has seen a jump in the last year for the two-day-per-week program.
January 18, 2013
Testimony: Bugs fed on dead infant before body found
Seven-month-old Alejandra Molina lay dead so long in the summer of 2011 that insects had begun to feed on her skin by the time her teenaged sister discovered the baby's body.
The infant died under a blanket, in a baby car seat set in a crib, in a room with a malfunctioning air conditioner as temperatures outside soared into the upper 90s.
January 8, 2013
Fed reviews of state child protection agencies under debate; review tied to arrests in Ga.
ATLANTA - Over the last decade, the federal government has withheld money from four states and Washington for the poor performance of their child protection systems.
The effectiveness of those federal reviews and the wisdom of penalizing cash-strapped child welfare agencies has been a matter of debate among experts in the field. That issue remerged in September when two child protection workers were arrested and accused of manipulating data so it would appear they were meeting internal guidelines related to the federal review process.
November 4, 2012
Investigation under way on K12 virtual school used in Northeast Florida districts
Student-teacher ratios at K12, the nation's largest online educator, are nearly twice as high as Florida's state-run virtual school.
A high school teacher working for K12 may have as many as 275 students, compared to Florida Virtual School, which has a maximum class size of 150. According to company documents, K12 provides better student-teacher ratios to schools that pay more per student, though even the best ratios are higher than the state-run competitor's. K12 has come under fire for high student-teacher ratios and poor student performance in Arizona, Georgia and Tennessee.
October 6, 2012
DFCS employees arrested for falsifying child abuse reports
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation teamed up with local agencies to serve a search warrant at the Muscogee County Offices of the Division of Family and Children Services Wednesday morning.
The Department of Health and Human Services issues federal grants to help DFCS programs, but only when they comply with federal requirements. Georgia DFCS failed to meet requirements, including the failure to meet the timeliness of initiating child maltreatment investigations.
September 5, 2012
Does state preschool crowd-out private provision?
The success of any governmental subsidy depends on whether it increases provision or crowds out existing supply.
Universal preschool policies introduced in Georgia and Oklahoma offer an opportunity to investigate the impact of government provision and government funding. Using difference-in-difference estimation frameworks, we examine the effects of universal preschool on the supply of childcare providers.
August 18, 2012
New homeschooling law spurns controversy and sparks resolution
Georgia implemented a new law on July 1 that requires homeschoolers to submit their declaration of intent to homeschool to the Georgia Department of Education instead of the county school systems.
While some homeschoolers were satisfied with the new law, many homeschoolers had trepidation regarding the implementation of this law and the potential challenges that might arise with changing the current system. Many homeschool lists received a letter from Senator Loudermilk's wife, Desiree, clarifying the law's guidelines and implementation.
August 11, 2012
Teen starved to death in spite of state's involvement
Huddled overnight beneath the shopping carts at Walmart, Markea Berry confided in her journal that she would rather live at the store than at home.
The next day, after store employees found her wandering among the produce, the Smyrna teen told police she had run away because she didn't want to be a burden on her mother. She was 14, but she was so small and skinny that she looked five years younger. Now, less than two years later, Markea is dead; at the time of her death in June she weighed 43 pounds. The mother she wanted not to burden, Ebony Berry, is charged with murder. She is accused of starving her daughter to death despite multiple investigations over nearly 10 years by child protection workers in Michigan and later in Georgia.
August 9, 2012
Police: Mom Starved Daughter to Death
COBB COUNTY -- WXIA obtained files from the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services that show caseworkers were showing concern several years before a 16-year-old girl died of starvation.
Authorities received a 911 call from the mother of Markea Berry saying the teen was unresponsive. Detectives determined she was starved to death and arrested her mother, Ebony Berry, for murder. According to the autopsy, Markea weighed just 43 pounds.
August 9, 2012
Girl Forced to Wear Shock Collar for Dogs
Georgia authorities found a 15-year-old girl who was forced to live in a chicken coop days at a time and who was forced to wear a shock collar for dogs as punishment.
The parents of the girl, Samuel and Diana Franklin, have been arrested and charged with multiple counts of child cruelty and false imprisonment. The girl has been placed in temporary state custody. The unidentified girl was adopted around 2007 and was home-schooled in a small rural town about 85 miles south of Atlanta.
July 16, 2012
After Baby Dies in Jail Cell, Mother Sues Sheriff
Deshawn Balka, 25, who was 5 1/2 months pregnant at the time, is alleging a lack of adequate medical care and a slow response to her cries for help when her son was born prematurely in April.
Balka's baby boy was delivered in the toilet of her jail cell. The suit alleges that it took about three hours for someone to respond to Balka's calls after the pain started. She said jail staff arrived five to 10 minutes after the baby was born.
July 6, 2012
Alert Kidjacked to Georgia CPS news!
The Corrupt Business of Child Protective Services | Nancy Schaefer
In this report, I am focusing on the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS). However, I believe Child Protective Services nationwide has become corrupt and that the entire system is broken almost beyond repair. I am convinced parents and families should be warned of the dangers.
June 24, 2012
A Nation in Crisis
Nancee Crowell, California and Nevada State Director of 'National Foster Parent Coalition for Allegation Reform' responds to an article written by Craig Schneider regarding Georgia CPS, expressing her outrage at the treatment of parents by Child Protection Agencies
June 24, 2012