Interim Director of the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services, Bobby Cagle, on Tuesday, implemented a new strategy aimed at increasing staff resources and reducing a statewide backlog in child protective services investigations.
DFCS currently has more than 3,300 overdue child protective services investigations. The number comprises approximately 48 percent of the state’s current investigative caseload.
Effective immediately, agency investigators will work a minimum of eight hours overtime per week until the backlog is eliminated.
“Each of these overdue cases represents a potential risk for vulnerable children in our state, and this requires swift action on our part,” Cagle said. “We must make sure these children are in a safe situation as soon as possible.”
Under agency policy, investigations into child safety should be completed within 45 days, unless the circumstances call for more time.
Increased levels of reporting, as well as a greater focus on the quality of DFCS investigations, have led to the large number of pending cases across the state.
Reports of child abuse and neglect to DFCS have steadily risen over the last year, from an average of 6,600 reports per month to an average of 8,400 reports monthly. While the number of reports has risen, staffing levels for DFCS have remained relatively static.
To address the increased workload long-term, Gov. Nathan Deal has promised funding for 500 additional caseworkers over the next three years. With the first wave of funding, DFCS has hired 175 additional case managers and is working to fill existing vacancies across the state.
By maximizing staff resources both short and long-term, Cagle seeks to safely complete 95 percent of overdue investigations by July 31. Cases that involve young children, allegations of abuse or families who have had multiple contacts with the agency will be given priority.
Cagle, who became interim director of DFCS on June 16, is conducting a top-down assessment of the agency that will likely result in future policy changes aimed at improving child safety.