DFACS Background Checks

There's new direction now in dealing with child abuse cases in Georgia. A new policy calls for criminal background checks on any adult who lives in a home.

In the case of suspected neglect, if there is any suspicion of abuse, the policy requires background checks on any adult who has access to a child, from relatives to babysitters, an extra step in determining if a child is at risk.

Robin Autry, a mother of four, says along with the joys of motherhood comes many perils. Worst of all, the chance of someone abusing them in any way.

"We worry if we ever have a babysitter or something. I'm extremely careful because children this small, they can't stand up for themselves," says Robin.

In 2002, nearly seven percent of child abuse cases in Georgia were by people other than the biological parent. Now, if abuse or neglect is suspected in a home, criminal background checks are required for any adult living there.

The policy is aimed at anyone who may watch over a mother's child while she is away, particularly live-in boyfriends. The state director of DFCS Janet Oliva says this will help uncover a person's history of sexual abuse of children.

"You have people who are naïve, they meet a person and think they are the perfect person and leave them with their children while they are gone to work or out or whatever. You don't know what they'll do to your children," says Tanja Anderson, who is in favor of the policy.

Robin Autry adds, "If they are innocent they should not mind being asked the questions."

Autry says hopefully this policy will open the eyes of any parent allowing another adult to live their home and say they may want to think twice before taking a serious gamble on their child's safety.

Case workers will have guidelines to follow, but the checks won't be limited to anyone. It's whoever caseworkers suspect poses a threat to a child in a home. Case workers have been doing checks on caretakers in some cases, but now it won't be an option.