Child deaths in Georgia rise despite DFCS contact

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press

Friday, Aug. 8, 2014

ATLANTA (AP) -- A new report says 180 children in Georgia died last year after the state's child protection agency had contact with their family.

State officials say that's higher than the 152 children who died in 2012. They say the agency has worked with other stakeholders to improve reporting of child deaths, which may have contributed to the higher numbers.

The report includes children who were in the state's custody or whose family had contact with the agency during the previous five years.

Division of Family and Children Services' Interim Director Bobby Cagle says every death is heartbreaking and the agency must work smarter to keep kids safe.

Statewide, nearly 1,500 children died in Georgia last year. More than 300 of those deaths were reported to the agency for review.

Region 7: (Burke, Columbia, Glascock, Hancock, Jefferson, Jenkins, Lincoln, McDuffie, Richmond, Screven, Taliaferro, Warren, Washington, Wilkes)

Total Number of Fatalities for 2013 in region 7: 8
Total Number of Fatalities for 2012 in region 7: 9

Total Number of Fatalities for 2013 Statewide: 180
Total Number of Fatalities for 2012 Statewide: 152

Between January 1 and December 31, 2013, the deaths of 180 children whose families had prior DFCS history were reported to the agency.
- 63 percent of these deaths were determined to be a result of natural causes and unintentional injuries. For the remaining deaths, manners were either undetermined or ruled as homicides or suicides.
- 23 percent of deaths were infants whose cause of death was sleep related.
- 48 percent of the deaths were of children under the age of 1.
- 42 percent of the deaths were of children whose families had an open case at the time of their deaths. Of these, 77 percent of the cases were open as a result of the incident that led to the child’s death.

The following data provides a snapshot of the Division’s overall Child Protective Services response for 2013:
- The total number of reports to DFCS: 76,995
- The total number of reports assigned to a caseworker: 54,101
- The total number of children in foster care at some point in 2013: 13,067
- The total number of Family Preservation3 cases: 6,057
- The total number of child deaths in the state of Georgia (per the Georgia Department of Public Health): 1,475
- The total number of deaths reported to DFCS: 317

(Copyright 2014. The Associated Press.)

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