Originally created 08/07/99

Cards list signs of abuse



Signs to look for when investigating child abuse may seem simplistic, but officials say its new quick-reference card could help save a child from an abusive situation.

The state Department of Human Resources recently gave its agencies a card that lists 13 signs to look for when investigating abuse.

For instance, if the client's:

-- Behavior toward the child is violent.

-- Description of the child is negative.

-- Explanation for the child's injury is inconsistent.

-- Drug or alcohol use affects their ability to care for the child.

"It's more of a handy reference so we don't miss anything," Elin Reynolds, social services supervisor for the Department of Family and Children Services, said of the card. "The staff clearly has to use its own judgment when assessing a situation."

Romana Johnson, an investigator for DFACS, said the cards are helpful.

"Sometimes a client doesn't show signs of violence but they want to give the child to the agency," Ms. Johnson said.

If an investigator referred to the card, they would see that a client's refusal of the child is one of the signs to look for.

Another is not providing necessary supervision.

DFACS has 12 investigators and averages 160 to 200 investigations per month, though they receive about 300 calls a month.

"For the seasoned staff, the cards do not make a difference but I think they help when we get newer staff," Ms. Reynolds said.

Faith Johnson can be reached at (706) 823-3765 or faithj@augustachronicle.com.