ATLANTA – The Georgia Department of Human Services (DHS), Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) continues to implement measures to protect Georgia’s most precious asset – children. To further support its efforts, DFCS announced today that it is publishing child death data on a quarterly basis to ignite conversations and spur communities to action across Georgia. The quarterly data provides insight into the circumstances surrounding a child’s death for children whose families have been provided support services within the last five years.
“This quarterly report is an attempt to look at the data in this area in a uniform manner, to be transparent, and to seek to identify trends that will allow us to protect children as best we can,” said DHS Commissioner Clyde L. Reese, III. “The entire agency will continue to strive to operate in a manner that promotes coordination, cooperation, and communication across all internal and external partners who care about the welfare of children and families.”
“Our intent is to learn from these tragic events so that no child shall die in vain,” said DHS, Division of Family and Children Services, Director Ron Scroggy. “As such, we believe the next step toward creating safer communities for our children is to continue to educate the public about the harsh realities surrounding child fatalities. We hope that by making this data available communities will be compelled to work with us to keep kids safe.”
DFCS created a specialized team to analyze and evaluate all child deaths reported to the agency. In response to the team’s work, DFCS has increased prevention awareness, identified trends in child fatalities, advanced practice and policy, and further trained staff to respond thoroughly and appropriately to all reports of child maltreatment.
“The complexity of these children’s circumstances that are revealed through our team’s staffing often cannot be boiled down to a one sentence summary. We will continue to respond to the community as answers become available to us, and use the information we have to educate Georgians,” added Scroggy.
DFCS reviewed over 150 child deaths that were reported to the Department, of those that DFCS reviewed, 120 had DFCS history prior to the child’s death. DFCS history was defined as children whose families have had contact with DFCS within the last five years. The most frequent causes of death among children with previous DFCS history were natural and accidental. Many of the children were in an unsafe sleep environment at the time of their death.
DFCS initiated several public awareness campaigns in early 2012 to educate Georgians on child death prevention. Topics included: the importance of a safe sleep environment for children, water safety, firesafety, and car seat safety.