Checking Out Child Abuse Cases

Children in the Peach State are getting extra protection under a new policy enacted by the Department of Family and Children's Services. DFACS social workers now must personally visit any home where child abuse is suspected following the advice of mandated sources.

The professionals DFACS is required to follow up reports from are any school and medical officials. They've always been required to report suspected abuse, but now even the slightest bit of information will lead to a personal checkup on the homes.

After being a school guidance counselor for 19 years, Elaine Shank can recognize the signs of child abuse. Elaine's experience makes her fully supportive of a new policy passed by Georgia's Department of Family and Children’s Services, which heavily depends on reports from school and medical officials.

DFACS officials say prior to last week they could reject reports on children over the age of four if they felt they didn't have enough information to warrant those reports. Now, under the new reports, no matter how much information they get they have to go to the home.

"Sometimes parents would just get letters in the mail, and I think that was a little off-putting," says Elaine Shank.

DFACS officials say, "The new policy provides a greater responsiveness to community concerns and a more personal approach to making sure they don't overlook possibilities of abuse and neglect."

Elaine Shank says sometimes parents need guidance just as much as their children do, and under this new policy they'll get it on a more personal level.

The new policy was enacted last Thursday. It went into effect immediately. On Wednesday they created a separate policy requiring child protection offices in Georgia to honor requests of their colleagues in other counties in situations such as home visits.