Monday, March 07, 2016

Georgia puts cheap pricetag on the lives of its children

But Republicans in the state legislature are trying to lower the state income taxes on the top 1%, which will be the subject of my next blog post.

By Jay Bookman
February 17, 2016


Georgia children supposedly under the watchful protection of the state continue to die from neglect and abuse in unacceptably high numbers,

When I arrived here back in 1990, Georgians were scandalized by the number of children identified to the state as potential victims of abuse and neglect who were turning up dead. Naturally, promises were made to fix it. Yet that same scandal has popped up as a recurring major scandal every four or five years since then, and remains a scandal today, some 26 years later. Why is that?


DFCS (Division of Family and Children Services) has 20 percent fewer caseworkers than it did a decade ago, even though the number of abuse and neglect cases is soaring. The number of Georgia children living in poverty has also jumped, from 489,000 in 2006 to 647,000 in 2014.


We also expect those caseworkers to perform as professionals even though we don’t pay them that way. The state is now advertising for DFCS social service case managers, requiring both a bachelor’s degree and relevant experience. In Fulton County, the pay scale is from $28,000 to $34,000. Not surprisingly, that creates major turnover problems in a field in which continuity is critical.

Back in 2000, state officials acknowledged that children were dying because high caseloads and low pay were causing an unacceptably high turnover rate of 39 percent. Today, 16 years later, it is 36 percent.


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