News

Governor Nathan Deal and Prevent Child Abuse Georgia Recognize Child Abuse Prevention Month in Georgia

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

gov deal signing proc official

Prevent Child Abuse Georgia (PCA Georgia) is encouraging communities across the state to participate in activities to recognize the month of April as Child Abuse Prevention Month. April was first proclaimed as Child Abuse Prevention Month nationally in 1983. Ever since then, state chapters of Prevent Child Abuse America, as well as other child welfare advocates have also commemorated April as Child Abuse Prevention Month at both the state and local level.

Governor Nathan Deal officially proclaimed April as Child Abuse Prevention Month in Georgia in a ceremony held at the state’s Capitol today, Wednesday March 16, 2016.

This year PCA Georgia is collaborating with the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) Office of Prevention and Family Support (OPFS), on several awareness activities under the “Blueprint for a Great Childhood” campaign.  Activities include distributing prevention calendars, sharing daily prevention messages through social media, and distributing pinwheels to every local county DFCS office.

In addition, there will be more than 15,000 pinwheels planted statewide by many child-serving organizations such as Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Child Advocacy Centers (CAC), faith based organizations, and the local Prevent Child Abuse councils. “Pinwheel gardens planted in communities across Georgia serve as powerful visual reminders that we all play a role in ensuring happy and healthy childhoods for all children everywhere,” stated Julia Neighbors, Director of Prevent Child Abuse Georgia. Individuals or organizations interested in helping to raise awareness can also participate by wearing blue on Friday, April 8, Georgia’s “Wear Blue” Day. Activities such as these can serve to start conversations in communities on how individuals and organizations can come together to support healthy children and strong families and prevent child maltreatment.

According to Prevent Child Abuse America, an estimated $2 billion was spent in our state in 2012 to pay for the costs of child maltreatment. Child maltreatment takes a huge economic toll on our society through child welfare costs, physical and mental costs, special education costs, and legal system costs. However there is good information on strategies that can prevent child maltreatment, such as home visiting programs, child sexual abuse prevention programs and public awareness campaigns.

PCA Georgia is a state chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America and is housed in the Mark Chaffin Center for Healthy Development in the School of Public Health at Georgia State University. The organization provides statewide direction to promote healthy children and develop strong families through building and supporting a prevention network, public awareness, prevention programs, research, and advocacy activities. PCA Georgia is supported in part by the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services through the U.S. Department Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Community Based Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CFDA 93.590).

To learn more about Prevent Child Abuse Georgia and Child Abuse Prevention Month activities around Georgia, visit the Child Abuse Prevention Month webpage.

March 16, 2016

Mandated Reporters Need Training — Even If It’s Not Mandated

July 16, 2015

Youth Today online publications

As a youth worker who works with kids on a regular basis, would you know what to do if you suspected that a child in your program has been abused or wanted to tell you a “secret” about something that’s happened to him or her? Do you know your organization’s policy on suspected child abuse? Are you prepared to make a report to child protective services? The role of today’s youth-service workers includes not only creating enriching experiences for the children and youth, it also includes understanding the role of mandated reporter.

In 2013, child protective services agencies received an estimated 3.5 million reports of suspected abuse that included 6.4 million children nationwide. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Children, Youth and Families, more than 60 percent of these reports were made by mandated reporters, which is any person required by law to reported suspected abuse. Individuals designated as mandated reporters are those who typically have frequent contact with children, such as teachers, child-care workers, doctors and nurses — to name a few. However, out-of-school child-care providers (including after-school, day-care and other child-care providers who are not traditional teachers) accounted for less than 1 percent of child maltreatment reports made.

Ideally, mandated reporting is the early recognition of child maltreatment with the goal of preventing further abuse from occurring. Early treatment of victimized children can help reduce the adverse consequences of abuse or neglect. Educators or other professionals who work in after-school care or summer programs and see children on a daily basis are considered mandated reporters and a first line of defense. Their close working relationships with children make it possible for children to disclose abuse or for staff to identify maltreatment.

From the calls I get on a regular basis, it is still unclear whether out-of-school child-care providers understand their role as a mandated reporter, their responsibility to report and how to make a report. I recently received a call from an administrator at an after-school program inquiring about whether mandated reporter training is required by law. While she understood that her staff were mandated reporters, she seemed less interested in the training when I told her it wasn’t required, but strongly recommended.

Identifying immediate danger may be clearer, but other forms of abuse such as neglect may leave a mandated reporter questioning whether to report. Other barriers to reporting include limited knowledge of signs and symptoms, fear of inaccuracy or fear of hurting the professional-parent relationship. Reporting suspected abuse not only helps to protect children from further harm, it can get family members the help they need, such as counseling, parent education and basic necessity supports.

Not reporting suspected abuse can also create something similar to a bystander effect, a kind of denial, thinking that if things were really bad, someone else would doing something about it.

While each state’s law is clear that certain professions (and in some states volunteers who work with children and youth) must report abuse, it is unclear about how professionals are supposed to receive mandated reporter training. Much of the mandated reporter training is left up to organizations to implement, and it is only encouraged, not required.

California is one of the few states that mentions training in its mandated-reporter laws. Yet the training is only encouraged for professionals interacting with children. Post-Sandusky, Pennsylvania law now requires training for certain professions, such as teachers and child-care providers.

When training is provided, it should cover at a minimum: how to better recognize the indicators of abuse and neglect, understanding your role as a mandated reporter, and when and how to report suspected abuse. Suggest mandated reporting training for all staff who work directly with children. Prevent Child Abuse America has chapters in all 50 states, and each state chapter can provide information on available trainings. Contact information for each state chapter can be found at http://bit.ly/1HACP6k.

For information about your state’s mandated reporting law, visit the Child Welfare Information Gateway at http://1.usa.gov/1L5NLep.

Julia Neighbors is the director of Prevent Child Abuse Georgia, which is based out of the School of Public Health at Georgia State University and provides leadership and direction for a statewide network of prevention advocates, operates the 1-800-CHILDREN Helpline and offers trainings on mandated reporting. Jyll Walsh, program coordinator, contributed research to this column.

A Review of 2015 Legislative Session

This year’s legislative session made some important changes in child welfare.  Senate Bill 138 amends O.C.G.A. Title 19 by enacting some of the Governor’s Child Welfare Reform Recommendations, including creating DFCS District and State Advisory Boards, allowing the Governor to appoint and oversee the Director of DFCS, and creating a child abuse registry. Senate Bill 72 amends O.C.G.A. Title 16 by expanding the relationships and actions included in incest.

The General Assembly also created six study committees including the House Study Committee on Grandparents Raising Grandchildren and Kinship Care; the Joint Study committee on Preventing Youth Substance Use Disorders; and the House Study Committee on Children’s Mental Health.

The Budget allocated $141.86 million for Child Welfare Services and $120,000 for the Court Appointed Special Advocates program. It also added $81.69 million for homes for children removed from their families, $230,000 for grants for Sexual Assault Centers, and $70,000 for an investigator in the Office of the Child Advocate.

Updates to Mandated Reporting
House Bill 268 amends O.C.G.A. 19-7-5 relating to mandatory reporters of child abuse. For organizations with protocols that designate a person who submits all reports of suspected child abuse, it is now required for that designated person to submit all reports made to them whether or not that person believes in the allegations of suspected child abuse without altering the information provided by the reporter. Additionally the law also clarifies how reports may be made. Although DFCS is already accepting reports of suspected abuse via email or fax, this update clarifies that DFCS can accept electronic forms of suspected abuse reports.

House Bill 177 amends O.C.G.A. 49-5-2 to require that certain school personnel who are required to report child abuse receive notification of receipt of the report within 24 hours and notice of the completion of the investigation by the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) within five days to disclose whether the suspected child abuse was confirmed or unconfirmed.

If you are a mandated reporter, you should familiarize yourself with this updated form. You can find it on PCA Georgia’s website and it can be filled out and emailed to cpsintake@dhs.ga.gov.
Find the new mandated reporter form here.
Or email Jyll Walsh to request in-person Mandated Reporting Training

Click here to view one-pager of Legislative Updates

Governor’s Proclamation, April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

March 24, 2015

For Immediate Release

Governor Nathan Deal and Prevent Child Abuse Georgia Recognize Child Abuse Prevention Month in Georgia
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

ATLANTA- Prevent Child Abuse Georgia (PCA Georgia) is encouraging communities across the state to participate in activities to recognize the month of April as Child Abuse Prevention Month. April was first proclaimed as Child Abuse Prevention Month nationally in 1983. Ever since then, state chapters of Prevent Child Abuse America, as well as other child welfare advocates have also commemorated April as Child Abuse Prevention Month at both the state and local level.

Governor Nathan Deal officially proclaimed April as Child Abuse Prevention Month in Georgia in a ceremony held at the state’s Capitol today, Wednesday March 25, 2015.

Georgia has over 15,000 pinwheels being planted statewide by many child-serving organizations such as Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Child Advocacy Centers (CAC), local DFCS offices, faith based organizations, and the local Prevent Child Abuse councils. “Pinwheel gardens planted in communities across Georgia serve as powerful visual reminders that we all play a role in ensuring happy and healthy childhoods for all children everywhere,” stated Julia Neighbors, Director of Prevent Child Abuse Georgia.

According to Prevent Child Abuse America, an estimated $2 billion was spent in our state in 2012 to pay for the costs of child maltreatment. Child maltreatment takes a huge economic toll on our society through child welfare costs, physical and mental costs, special education costs, and legal system costs. However there is good information on strategies that can prevent child maltreatment, such as home visiting programs, child sexual abuse prevention programs and public awareness campaigns.

PCA Georgia is a state chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America and is housed in the Center for Healthy Development in the School of Public Health at Georgia State University. The organization provides statewide direction to promote healthy children and develop strong families through prevention network, public awareness, prevention programs, research, and advocacy activities. PCA Georgia is supported by the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services through the U.S. Department Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Community Based Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CFDA 93.590).

To learn more about Prevent Child Abuse Georgia and Child Abuse Prevention Month activities around Georgia, visit the Child Abuse Prevention Month tab at our website, http://www.preventchildabusega.org

March 4, 2015

Contact:
Anna Varela
Director of Communications
School of Public Health
404-413-1504

State Funds Child Abuse Helpline Housed At Georgia State

ATLANTA—State officials have awarded $82,500 to Prevent Child Abuse Georgia, part of the School of Public Health at Georgia State University, to support the state’s 1-800-CHILDREN Helpline.

The funds were awarded by Georgia’s Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) as a one-year pilot contract to support the DFCS Call Center.

The 1-800-CHILDREN Helpline is a top resource for preventing child maltreatment by providing information and referral services that promote the wellbeing of children while preventing child abuse and neglect. The Helpline equips citizens with the resources and knowledge necessary to promote positive parenting.

Thanks to financial support from the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, the free resource, which had shut down in 2011, was re-started by PCA Georgia in February 2014. The new state funding allowed the Helpline to expand its service hours, effective Monday, March 2, to 8 a.m.-7 p.m., Mondays through Fridays.

“Expanding the Helpline and an expanded collaboration with DFCS is wonderful news for Georgia families, children and for PCA Georgia,” said Dr. John R. Lutzker, director of the Center for Healthy Development, the home for PCA Georgia in the School of Public Health.

“The Helpline serves many purposes as a resource for parents, other members of the public and for professionals. Collaborating with DFCS means the ability to have much broader reach across the state and for PCA Georgia to work closely together on meeting the needs of families.”

PCA Georgia is a state chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America. The organization provides statewide direction to prevent child abuse and neglect, promote healthy children and develop strong families through its prevention network, public awareness, prevention programs and advocacy. Visit www.preventchildabusega.org for more information.

2013 GEORGIA CHILD FATALITY REPORT

The Georgia Child Fatality Review Panel released its 2013 report on January 15, 2015 Child Fatality Review Committees throughout the state work to promote more accurate identification and reporting of child fatalities to determine the circumstances of child abuse and child fatalities, to report accurate statistics regarding child fatalities, and to suggest prevention strategies for the leading causes of child fatalities in Georgia. This document reflects the compilation of this information and can be used to guide prevention efforts to reduce child mortality throughout the state.

In 2013, a total of 540 child deaths were deemed reviewable in Georgia. Sleep-related deaths are still the leading cause of death for infants younger than one-year-old, caused by unsafe sleep environments where infants typically die as a result of suffocation/ asphyxia. Of all reviewed deaths, 83.2% were determined preventable.

Other key findings that have significant implications for future preventative actions include Georgia’s infant mortality rate (IMR), sleep-related deaths, ethnic disparities in deaths, and deaths reviewed preventable. The IMR in Georgia continues to be higher than the national rate, and the rate for African-Americans is higher than the racial/ state rate. Additionally, African-American children have higher incidence of deaths compared to other ethnic groups. Prevention programs such as home-visiting and educational campaigns aimed at parents and family service providers to inform and reinforce evidence-based material such as safe infant sleeping habits should be more widely available.

To review the entire 2013 Georgia Child Fatality Review Panel CLICK HERE

PCA Georgia actively participates in the Child Fatality Review and the Child Death, Near Fatality, and Serious Injury Review committee as a voice for prevention to identify opportunities for implementation.

Press Release 

Boy Scouts Hosting: Atlanta’s Youth Protection Seminar October 16th, 2014

On October 16th, youth serving organizations, clubs, scouting groups, and religious institutions from around the Atlanta metro area will gather for a day dedicated to protecting the youth of our community through our collective efforts, training, and expert advice.

The first annual Youth Protection Seminar is designed to help any group strengthen their youth protection protocols and barriers to abuse by bringing together resources, experts, and answers for your organization’s benefit.  Keynote Speaker, Dr. Anna Salter, a world renowned expert on the subject of Child Sexual Abuse, will share her knowledge with the group on strengthening protective policies and hardening the targets to abuse.  Bob Wilson, former District Attorney for DeKalb County and well-known child advocate, has assembled experts from youth advocacy groups, government agencies, and legal organizations to deliver panel discussions on both prevention and reporting.  The day will cap off with Darkness to Light’s “Stewards of Children” training which offers practical prevention training with a conversational, real-world approach.  Exhibitors from the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Safe Kids Georgia, and Prevent Child Abuse Georgia will be providing resources and answers for to benefit all agencies in their efforts to protect children.

This event is designed for the individual(s) within your organization who are charged with overseeing your program of youth safety/child abuse prevention and response.  This program packed day will be hosted by the Atlanta Area Council Boy Scouts of America at the Volunteer Service Center located in the Cumberland/ Galleria area.  The conference fee of $35.00 covers the Stewards of Children Training, all support materials, a delicious lunch, and a handsome participant gift.  If cost is a barrier to your organization’s participation, please email Jason Baldridge, Safe Scouting Director, at jason.baldridge@scouting.org .  If your organization would like to attend as a group and pay at the door, please notify me directly with your organization name and the names of your attendees.

We hope you will consider attending this game-changing conference.  Click here to meet our presenters and to register.  Space for this event is limited and is filling up now so please register soon.

For More INFORMATION Click HERE

A Culture of Respect, Early Child Development, and the Impact of Abuse

 

ATLANTA, GA, September 15, 2014 – The recent story involving the indictment of an NFL player brings focus to the importance of creating a culture of respect for others, especially our children, and the long-term impact of abuse and neglect on early child development.

We always have known that effective parental options to physical punishment, such as time-outs exist, and this is important because we now know that physical abuse can both adversely impact the development of children, and have a long-term impact on the health and productivity of these children as they transition into adulthood.

America is home to many cultures that bring many practices to child rearing and knowing what is best for a child is typically best left to a parent. But parents must be aware of disciplinary options that are age appropriate, contribute to holding the child accountable, and promote a healthy parent-child relationship.

This is one of the goals of Georgia’s home visitation services funded by the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Grant Program. Georgia specifically uses the demonstrable and effective evidence-based models: SafeCare, Parents as Teachers, Early Head Start, First Steps, and Nurse-Family Partnership, as well as other programs. These services build upon mutual respect, effective child rearing strategies, and recognize that parents need, and typically want, information to build that life-long relationship.

We encourage everyone to learn about such services, but we also encourage everyone to play a role in the lives of children and their families, including:

  • Proactively asking parents we know whether they need a break for a few hours to keep the stress levels down.
  • Volunteering at local child and family serving organizations to help parents receive the help and services they need.
  • Reporting abuse and neglect when we suspect it is occurring.

Most importantly, we encourage everyone to be proactive in protecting and respecting children. The 1-800-CHILDREN Helpline is a top resource for preventing child maltreatment by providing crucial information and referral services that promote the well-being of children while preventing child abuse and neglect. The Helpline equips citizens with the resources and knowledge necessary to promote positive parenting.

“It is normal for the public to be outraged any time a child has been physically abused; but not doing anything constructive about it, is equally outrageous,” said James M. Hmurovich, President & CEO, Prevent Child Abuse America. “So we now should be asking, what is the role each of us can play as members of the community to prevent child abuse and neglect, and what is our responsibility as a nation to prevent these types of situations in the future?”

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

Prevent Child Abuse Georgia (PCA Georgia), housed in the Center for Healthy Development at the Georgia State University School of Public Health, is once again encouraging communities across the state to participate in activities to recognize April as Child Abuse Prevention Month. April was first proclaimed to be Child Abuse Prevention Month nationally in 1983. Since then, state chapters of Prevent Child Abuse America along with other child welfare advocates have also commemorated April as Child Abuse Prevention Month at the state and local level.

Governor Nathan Deal officially proclaimed April as Child Abuse Prevention Month in Georgia in a ceremony held on Wednesday April 2nd. The Governor’s Office for Children and Families also encouraged individuals across the state to participate in “Wear Blue Day” on Friday April 4th.

“Child Abuse Prevention Month is a time when people are already thinking about children, so it’s the perfect opportunity for each of us to reflect and act upon the ways we can help children, families and our communities thrive,” said Julia Neighbors, Director of Prevent Child Abuse Georgia. “We all have a role to play, so our goal this April is to help others recognize that role and the ways in which we can maximize our impact.”

According to Prevent Child Abuse America, each year child abuse costs the U.S. upward of $80 billion. Put in other terms, that same amount of money could help send 1 million children to college, pay the yearly salaries of 2 million teachers, or eliminate the hospital bills for 8 million new parents.

1-800-CHILDREN Helpline Now Open for Calls

Prevent Child Abuse Georgia (PCA Georgia), announces the return of a referral line for Georgians concerned about the healthy development of children and the prevention of child abuse and neglect: 1-800-CHILDREN. With the generous support of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, PCA Georgia will relaunch this free resource, which had shut down in 2011. Click here for a full press release.