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Family Preservation in Georgia

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    1. Family Preservation in Georgia A Legal and Judicial Guide to Preventing Unnecessary Removal to State Custody

    2. Family Preservation in Georgia Financial support from the Georgia Bar Foundation Resources and contributions of the project partners: Barton Child Law & Policy ClinicEmory University Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation Supreme Court of Georgias Committee on Justice for Children

    3. Who Should Read This Guide? New Legal Practitioners Experienced Child Welfare Legal ProfessionalsJudges and Lawyers DFCS?

    4. Our Approach What is the role of the lawyers and judges when DFCS is the one that makes the decision whether to remove? How do judges decide whether a removal is necessary? How can lawyers best represent clients who face the removal of a child? When is a removal not a removal?

    5. The Forces Involved in the Removal Decision Parents and Childrens Rights The right to the custody and control of ones child is a fiercely guarded right in our society and in our law. It is a right that should be infringed upon only under the most compelling circumstances. In re M.S., 178 Ga. App. 380 All children have the right to a healthy and safe childhood in a nurturing, permanent family, or in the closest substitute to a family setting. NCJFCJ Key Principles

    6. The Forces Involved in the Removal Decision Child Safety 2007 in Georgia32,641 substantiated reports of maltreatment 27,728 victims of neglect 3,097 victims of physical abuse 1,201 victims of sexual abuse 615 victims of other abuse The affect of adverse childhood experiences on child development

    7. DFCS Decision Whether to Remove a Child From the Home Intake Screen out or refer for investigation? DFCS policy calls for erring on the side of caution in accepting case for investigation Response time Diversion

    8. DFCS Investigation of Maltreatment Safety Assessment Immediate danger of physical harm What resources exist that would allow the child to remain safely in the home? What protective interventions are necessary? Risk Assessment Risk of future maltreatment Identify families who may benefit from services

    9. DFCS Investigation of Maltreatment Supervisory Review Has the case manager accurately assessed child safety and risk factors? Removal should be the last option to maintain the childs safety

    10. When Does DFCS Make the Decision to Remove? At intake in particularly dangerous cases During investigation based on information that indicates danger During an on-going case, after reasonable efforts to address the risk fail

    11. Removing a Child From the Home In your county: Who makes the decision to request the courts authorization to remove a child to DFCS custody? Does DFCS seek legal advice from the SAAG before requesting court authorization to remove? Does DFCS ask assistance from law enforcement when removing children from the home? How frequently does law enforcement take protective custody of a child?

    12. Reasonable Efforts to Preserve the Family and Prevent Removal? What is reasonable? Is this a legal determination? How can lawyers and judges determine reasonability of social work? Efforts must address the needs of the family No laundry list of efforts

    13. DFCS Child & Family Service Planthe CFSP Georgias 2005-2009 CFSP, along with the Annual Progress and Services Reports (APSR), describe the services DFCS provides to protect children and preserve families in Georgia. The federal government monitors Georgias compliance with the CFSP through a process known as the Child and Family Services Review (CFSR).

    14. DFCS Child & Family Service Planthe CFSP In response to CFSR findings that Georgia was not in substantial conformity with its CFSP, Georgia has developed program improvement plans (PIP).

    15. DFCS Policy The agencys statement of policy is the first step Is it ever reasonable for DFCS not to follow its own policy?

    16. Understanding Services Basic Services: TANFTemporary Assistance to Needy Families Food Stamps Childcare and Parent ServicesCAPS PUP Housing, medical services, treatment services, transportation

    17. Understanding Services Family Support Services: Prevention and early intervention services Children 1st Babies Cant Wait Parent education classes Connecting families to community resources School outreach and life-skills training Treatment and recovery support

    18. Understanding Services Family Preservation Services: Intensive services Families in crisis Families at risk for child removal Family based?

    19. Delivery of FPS Ongoing CPSFamily Preservation Case Management Direct services Services from outside providers Good social work judgment Care, logic, common sense, and reasonableness Did DFCS offer and provide the services most likely to remedy a particular familys needs?

    20. Safety Planning During investigation or ongoing case Identifies each safety concern Outlines steps to ensure safety

    21. The Safety Plan Use of family resources, neighbors or individuals as safety resources Use of community agencies or services as safety resources Having the alleged perpetrator leave the home Having the non-maltreating caregiver move to a safe environment with the child

    22. The Out of Home Safety Plan Having the caregiver place the child outside the homeis this a removal? The familys right to make its own decisions to avoid foster care The familys decision in the face of DFCS pressure A safety plan using out of home placement should never be a permanent placement or be a substitute for court action

    23. Family Team Meetings FTM as a tool for engaging families in the change process Who comes to the FTM? How frequently is DFCS holding FTMs? The Family Plan

    24. Court Impact How can the Juvenile Court help to prevent unnecessary removal? DFCS cannot remove without court authorizationthe judicial branch provides the check on the executive branch How can the Juvenile Court contribute to family preservation?

    25. Court Culture Urgency rather than delay Shared responsibility rather than mistrust and blame Best practices High expectations for preserving safety within the home

    26. Knowledge and Use of Removal Data A court does not make removal decisions to maintain or attain good numbers What do the numbers mean to you?

    27. Stakeholder Collaboration Community Resources Training Information Sharing Maximizing Federal Funding Protocols for Reasonable Efforts

    28. Contrary to the Welfare The judges decision authorizing removal and continued detention At authorization At 72 hours Can the law standardize the analysis?

    29. Juvenile Court Authorization The judge or an intake officer? Training of the intake officer Questions to ask

    30. Reasonable Efforts Knowledge of what resources should be available Knowledge of what resources are, in fact, available Making the finding