O.C.G.A. §49-5-182 requires DFCS to establish and maintain a registry of all substantiated cases of abuse and neglect into a centralized Child Protective Services Information System titled the Child Abuse Registry. The purpose of the registry is to establish a central database of maltreaters that is available to:
Licensed entities in Georgia that interact with children or are responsible for providing care for children;
A state government agency of any state which licenses entities that have interactions with children or are responsible for providing care for children;
A state government agency which licenses entities that have interactions with children or are responsible for providing care for children;
A state government agency of any state which licenses entities that have interactions with children or are responsible for providing care for children; and
A Georgia Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)
In theory, the registry sounds like an efficient way to protect our children by identifying dangerous individuals. However, in reality, the procedure is flawed and causes catastrophic results to innocent individuals.
The statute aims to expose “maltreaters,” AKA those responsible for “substantiated cases of abuse and neglect.” However, the finding of a substantiated case is determined solely by the Department of Family and Children’s Services. Suspected maltreaters have NO access to the information in DFACs files and NO opportunity to defend against allegations. Suspected maltreaters are not entitled to legal representation nor able to participate in the investigation to protect his/her interest. DFACs employees often rely on one sided, biased assertions and incomplete and/or inaccurate reporting of caseworkers and “witnesses”. In the end, DFACs notifies individuals via mail that he/she has been labeled a “maltreater” and added to the registry.
Fortunately, the law allows for an appeal before a judge of the Office of State Administrative Hearings (OSAH). Appeals must be timely requested and in writing. When correctly requested, the court schedules a hearing at which the appellant must appear and be ready to litigate against the finding of abuse or neglect. Individuals appealing the DFACs finding can retain an attorney to represent him/her during the appeal. An attorney can gain access to DFACs file, file appropriate and necessary motions, conduct investigation, handle scheduling issues and otherwise advocate on the client’s behalf.
Retaining a litigation attorney who is familiar with the process and procedure is crucial to ensure a fair and just outcome. Jennifer S. Adams has represented individuals appealing their placement on the child abuse registry in multiple metro counties. Jennifer secures court orders forcing DFACs to turn over its “investigation” for her review over DFAC’s attorney’s objections. She thoroughly reviews the evidence and conducts her own investigation. As a litigator for over 20 years, Jennifer skillfully presents her findings to the court and has been successful in overturning the finding of substantiated cases of abuse and neglect.
While Jennifer cannot promise you an outcome to your case, she can promise you the she will fight on your behalf. Make sure your rights are protected and do not wait to call The Snyder Adams Law Firm, LLC to assist you with your Child Abuse Registry Appeal.