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DHR-DFCS Statewide Community Forum. Atlanta, Georgia December 19, 2006. Today’s Objectives. Share what we heard from you in 13 regional forums across the state Talk about how we are going to respond to what we heard Get your comments on next steps. Purpose of Community Forums.

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DHR-DFCS Statewide Community Forum

Atlanta, Georgia

December 19, 2006

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Today’s Objectives

  • Share what we heard from you in 13 regional forums across the state

  • Talk about how we are going to respond to what we heard

  • Get your comments on next steps

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Purpose of Community Forums

  • To respond to Georgia Senate Resolution 1270 requiring DFCS to seek community input.

  • To seek stakeholder input as required by the federal Child and Family Services Review process.

  • To present information to stakeholders on agency mission,vision, values, goals, challenges and outcomes.

  • To seek stakeholder input for continuous quality improvement.

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The Community Forums

  • November 2006

  • 13 forums – 1 in every region (2 in Metro Atlanta)

  • More than 300 stakeholders

    • Legislators, judges, attorneys, law enforcement, service providers, CASA and other child advocates, school officials, foster parents

  • DFCS Staff

    • State, region and county

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Additional Input Still Coming In

  • Online stakeholder survey

    • More than 1,500 responses to date

  • Caregiver (foster, adoptive, relative) survey

    • More than 2,000 responses to date

  • Biological parent survey

    • Recently mailed

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Regional Forum Components


  • DFCS challenges, such as caseloads and staff turnover

  • DFCS federal performance indicators

  • Current strategies/initiatives, including diversion and re-vamping our independent living program

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Regional Forum Components

Group Discussion:

  • Reducing child abuse and neglect

  • Preventing out-of-home placements

  • Preserving families

  • Supporting adoptions

  • Transitioning teens to independence

  • Stabilizing foster care

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What We Heard About Safety

  • Keeping children safe is a community responsibility – not just DFCS’ responsibility

  • More community education is needed to better:

    • Recognize and report abuse

    • Understand DFCS mission, role, available services/resources

  • More networking and multi-disciplinary teams are desired

  • Minimize the number of caseworkers in a single case

  • Recruit, screen, train and match appropriate and committed adults with children

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What We Heard About Permanency

Preserving Families

  • Encourage relative caregivers but ensure safety

  • More family team meetings

  • More visitation

  • More resources and supports for families so they can keep children in the home

    • Appropriate mental health and substance services, especially in rural areas

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What We Heard About Permanency

Stabilizing Placements

  • Increase awareness of the reasons foster parents are needed

  • Prepare and train foster parents for realities

  • Share child information up front; match child to family

  • Provide services and supports for families caring for teens, challenging and special needs children

  • Ensure adequate resources and supports for foster children and families

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What We Heard About Permanency

Transitioning Teens in Foster Care to Independence

  • “Normalize” teen years

    • Driving, extracurricular activities, prom, etc.

  • Develop mentors, especially male

  • Address poor high school graduation rate

    • Collaborate with DOE, technical colleges, university system

  • Educate relatives and foster homes about resources

  • Bolster independent living program and resources

    • More coordinators, apartments

  • Teen employment

    • Collaborate with DOL, business

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What We Heard About Permanency


  • Increase awareness, recruitment

  • Address negative perceptions about children in state custody

  • Provide services and supports for challenging and special needs children

  • Prepare and train adoptive parents for realities

  • Reduce barriers and length of legal process

  • Ensure adequate resources and supports for adoptive children and families

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What We Heard About Well-Being

Building Parental Capacity

  • Help parents who are overwhelmed, stressed

  • Need more prevention services and supports earlier, for families with children ages 0-3

  • Need child abuse and neglect (CAN) education and training at all levels of community

    • Parents

    • Community service providers/agency partners

    • Other community partners (churches, businesses, etc)

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What We Heard About Well-Being

Building Parental Capacity(continued)

  • Assess family and bring in partners at beginning

  • Ensure adequate resources throughout state

    • Education, physical and mental health, substance abuse

  • Change public perception of DFCS and agency/caseworker culture

    • Replace the adversarial “taking kids” perception with the “helping families” perception.

  • Educate other agencies and community on DFCS mission/role

    • DFCS is used as a tool

    • Not threatening

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Overall Themes That Emerged Across All Topics and Regions

  • You told us that in order to make gains on the outcomes of well being, safety and permanency, we need to work with you on:

    • Communication

    • Collaboration

    • Targeting Resources

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Communication means:


public relations,




and building of relationships with people who care and want to be involved

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Collaboration means:



interdisciplinary meetings,

joint staffing,

partnering with local collaboratives, and

eliminating adversarial relationships –

culture change

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Targeting Resources means:

  • Train, compensate and retain staff

  • Reduce caseloads

  • Ensure there are adequate services and supports for children and families, especially in rural areas

  • Monitor performance, outcomes

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Our Reaction

  • It’s agreed: DFCS Cannot Do it Alone

  • Protecting children and supporting families is a shared responsibility

  • DFCS Must

    • Continue to educate the public and share information about Child Abuse and Neglect

  • Together We Must

    • Define our respective roles and responsibilities and cultivate solid working relationships with other people who care about families and want to be involved.

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Steps Already Underway

  • Staff turnover has decreased from 42 percent in 2004 to 26-30 percent to date, closer to the national average of 22 percent

  • Average caseloads have decreased from 26 in June 2004 to 17 currently

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Steps Already Underway

  • Foster Parent Recruitment – EMBRACE

  • Place children in the best choice – not only choice

    • An opportunity to privatize the recruitment, training, support and retention of foster parents

    • Pilot operating in five counties recruiting foster parents

    • Expand EMBRACE to partner with community stakeholders and civic leaders statewide

    • Goal is to have 700 new foster parents in FY 2008

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Steps Already Underway

  • Jobs For Youth

    • Expansion of TeenWork to make sure every 16 and 17 year old has the opportunity to have a summer job.

  • Redesigning the Independent Living Program

    • Focused on key youth development indicators

    • Continuous improvement sessions with ILP staff

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Steps Already Underway

  • Community Partnerships for Protecting Children (CPPC)

    • Individualized Course Action, Family Team Meetings

    • Develop local networks of services and supports that involve natural/informal and formal resources and address both prevention and intervention

    • Shared decision-making process

  • Family Connection Partnership

    • Present in all 159 counties

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Steps Already Underway

  • Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF)

    • Provides resources for family support, family preservation, time-limited reunification services and adoption promotion

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More Input Is Needed

We need to get more specific about how we will address:



Targeted Resources

In which ways do we need to take on these objectives?

With whom should we work to achieve these goals?

How does current efforts focused on these objectives need to be changed?

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DHR-DFCS Statewide Community Forum

Atlanta, Georgia

December 19, 2006