Circuit bests state

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Compared with the rest of the state, the three-county Augusta Judicial Circuit takes good care of its abused and neglected children for the most part, statistics presented Tuesday to judges and child welfare workers showed.

But the data revealed weaknesses, such as taking too long to get children adopted and the percentage of Richmond County children victimized again after Department of Family and Children Services intervention.

"Clearly Augusta (Judicial Circuit) is doing a lot of good things for their kids," said Beth Locker, deputy project director for the Georgia Supreme Court's Committee on Justice for Children. "Are they doing enough? Probably not."

Ms. Locker presented the figures at the Justice for Children Summit, attended by juvenile court judges, child welfare workers and law enforcement officers. Her numbers come from the nonprofit group Fostering Court Improvement, which compiles information reported by child welfare offices to the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

In most categories, the circuit including Richmond, Columbia and Burke counties does as well as or better than the state as a whole. In a measure indicating courts' and DFCS' judgement, of all children removed from homes between April 2007 and March 2008, only 4.6 percent, or 13 children, had been taken out of foster care within the past year, as opposed to an 8.5 percent statewide rate. Of those removed in the Augusta circuit, 8.5 percent, or 24 children, had been in foster care at any point previously, compared with 16.4 percent statewide.

But Ms. Locker said the circuit's timeliness in seeing children adopted needs improvement. In the 12 months ending March 31, Georgia's median length between a child's removal to adoption was 33.4 months. Richmond County's median was 38.4 months, and Columbia County's median was 85.5 months.

In 2005, the most recent year for which the data are available, the state's rate of child abuse victims re-victimized was 6.4 percent. Richmond County's rate was 8.2 percent.

"The data only tells you the numbers," said Richmond County DFCS Director Andre Chambers. "The data doesn't tell you what's happening behind that. Strategies have to be built on that.

"We have a lot more work we need to do," he said.

Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or johnny.edwards@augustachronicle.com.

REPORTS OF MALTREATMENT


Per 10,000 children, children's cases warranting investigation from January to December 2007:

BURKE: 25.8


RICHMOND: 18.1


COLUMBIA: 14.8


CIRCUIT: 17.5


STATEWIDE: 22.9

VICTIMS RE-VICTIMIZED


After reports of abuse, victims again mistreated within 12 months from January to December 2005


RICHMOND: 8.2 percent (108/1,319)


BURKE: 5.8 percent (8/138)


COLUMBIA: 4.9 percent (14/285)


CIRCUIT: 7.5 percent (130/1,742)


STATEWIDE: 6.4 percent



REMOVALS TO FOSTER CARE


Average monthly removals, per 10,000 children, from April 2007 to March 2008


RICHMOND: 3.5


COLUMBIA: 1.2


BURKE: 0.8


CIRCUIT: 2.5


STATEWIDE: 2.5




TOP FOUR REASONS FOR REMOVALS FROM APRIL 2007 TO MARCH 2008


* Note: Aggregate percentages surpass 100 because children can be removed for multiple reasons



RICHMOND


NEGLECT: 66 percent


INADEQUATE HOUSING: 24 percent


DRUG AND/OR ALCOHOL ABUSE BY CARETAKER: 23 percent


PHYSICAL ABUSE: 21 percent



COLUMBIA


NEGLECT: 86 percent


DRUG AND/OR ALCOHOL ABUSE BY CARETAKER: 47 percent


INADEQUATE HOUSING: 29 percent


CARETAKER'S INABILITY TO COPE: 16 percent



BURKE


DRUG AND/OR ALCOHOL ABUSE BY CARETAKER: 86 percent


INADEQUATE HOUSING: 57 percent


ABANDONMENT: 29 percent


PHYSICAL ABUSE: 14 percent



CIRCUIT


NEGLECT: 68 percent


DRUG AND/OR ALCOHOL ABUSE BY CARETAKER: 29 percent


INADEQUATE HOUSING: 26 percent


PHYSICAL ABUSE: 18 percent



STATEWIDE


NEGLECT: 60 percent


DRUG AND/OR ALCOHOL ABUSE BY CARETAKER: 28 percent


INADEQUATE HOUSING: 15 percent


PHYSICAL ABUSE: 13 percent


CARETAKER'S INABILITY TO COPE: 13 percent



FOSTER CARE POPULATION


Per 10,000 children, as of March 31, 2008


RICHMOND: 58 (306 total)


BURKE: 21 (15 total)


COLUMBIA: 10 (32 total)


CIRCUIT: 38 (353 total)


STATEWIDE: 43



MEDIAN LENGTH CHILDREN IN CARE STAYED IN STATE CUSTODY, AS OF MARCH 31, 2008


BURKE: 20 months


RICHMOND: 10.3 months


COLUMBIA: 3.5 months


CIRCUIT: 9.9 months


STATEWIDE: 14.7 months



TOP FOUR PLACEMENTS FOR CHILDREN IN CARE WHO WERE DISCHARGED FROM APRIL 2007 TO MARCH 2008



RICHMOND


REUNITED WITH PARENT/PARENTS: 47 percent


WITH A RELATIVE: 30 percent


ADOPTED: 14 percent


PLACED WITH A GUARDIAN: 4 percent (tie)


BECAME EMANCIPATED: 4 percent (tie)



COLUMBIA


WITH A RELATIVE: 45 percent


REUNITED WITH PARENT/PARENTS: 36 percent


PLACED WITH A GUARDIAN: 16 percent


ADOPTED: 2 percent (tie)


BECAME EMANCIPATED: 2 percent (tie)



BURKE


WITH A RELATIVE: 69 percent


REUNITED WITH PARENT/PARENTS: 23 percent


OTHER (RAN AWAY/DEATH): 8 percent


(Percentages for all other categories were zero)



CIRCUIT


REUNITED WITH PARENT/PARENTS: 44 percent


WITH A RELATIVE: 34 percent


ADOPTED: 1 1 percent


WITH A GUARDIAN: 6 percent



STATEWIDE


REUNITED WITH PARENT/PARENTS: 46 percent


WITH A RELATIVE: 24 percent


ADOPTED: 14 percent


BECAME EMANCIPATED: 8 percent




MEDIAN MONTHS FROM REMOVAL TO ADOPTION BETWEEN APRIL 2007 AND MARCH 2008


COLUMBIA: 85.5


RICHMOND: 38.4


BURKE: Not applicable (none adopted)


CIRCUIT: 38.6


STATEWIDE: 33.4


Source: Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System and the Protective Services Data System, compiled by Fostering Court Improvement

Comments (5) Add comment
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GnipGnop
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GnipGnop 09/10/08 - 05:56 am
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Her numbers come from the

Her numbers come from the nonprofit group Fostering Court Improvement, which compiles information reported by child welfare offices to the federal Department of Health and Human Services. Sounds like the fox watching the hen house to me.

RobertGartner
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RobertGartner 09/10/08 - 09:51 am
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Yes and so very much more

Yes and so very much more could easily be done if the government would see to it that fathers be allowed into the lives of their children. Family court destroys the father child relationship.

Craig Spinks
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Craig Spinks 09/10/08 - 11:32 am
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Sorry male and female

Sorry male and female procreators, to a much greater extent than incompetent family and juvenile court judges, destroy the parent-child relationship.

disssman
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disssman 09/10/08 - 03:15 pm
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Do you think a child of 16 or

Do you think a child of 16 or 17 who is pregnant should be left with parents or sent to an foster home? Well our great candidate from you know where, thinks it is just peachy cute for teens to get pregnant. remember she is proud of her daughter!

GnipGnop
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GnipGnop 09/10/08 - 04:57 pm
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Her daughter made a mistake.

Her daughter made a mistake. Geesh didn't you ever make them when you were a kid. It beats the alternative of getting an abortion.

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