ALBANY, Ga. — Dougherty County did not appear to fare well in a recent report on child deaths in Georgia.
The Georgia Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) continues to implement measures hoping to protect Georgia’s children.
As part of this, DFCS has announced that it is publishing child death data on a quarterly basis to ignite conversations and spur communities to action across Georgia.
A report released Friday gives an analysis of child deaths in the state from January through Sept. 30 of this year. It shows that Dougherty County — with six child deaths — had the third highest rate in Georgia for that time period.
The two counties to have higher rates were Fulton and Clayton counties in metro Atlanta, with 10 and nine deaths, respectively. DFCS Region 10, which encompasses 14 counties in Southwest Georgia, had 15 child deaths overall, the report shows.
“This quarterly report is an attempt to look at the data in this area in a uniform manner, to be transparent, and to seek to identify trends that will allow us to protect children as best we can,” said DHS Commissioner Clyde L. Reese III, in a statement. “The entire agency will continue to strive to operate in a manner that promotes coordination, cooperation, and communication across all internal and external partners who care about the welfare of children and families.”
DFCS reviewed more than 150 child deaths that were reported to the department. Of those the agency reviewed, 120 had DFCS history prior to the child’s death. For the purposes of the analysis, DFCS history was defined as children whose families have had contact with the agency within the last five years.
Statewide, January had the most child deaths of any month — with 17 total deaths. In a breakdown on manner of death of those with DFCS history, 34 percent were from natural causes, 21 percent were accidental and 13 percent were homicides. The remainder accounted for suicides, pending or undetermined, the report showed.
“Our intent is to learn from these tragic events so that no child shall die in vain,” said DHS Division of Family and Children Services Director Ron Scroggy in a news release. “As such, we believe the next step toward creating safer communities for our children is to continue to educate the public about the harsh realities surrounding child fatalities. We hope that by making this data available communities will be compelled to work with us to keep kids safe.
“The complexity of these children’s circumstances that are revealed through our team’s staffing often cannot be boiled down to a one sentence summary. We will continue to respond to the community as answers become available to us, and use the information we have to educate Georgians.”
Officials with DFCS say they initiated several public awareness campaigns earlier in the year to educate Georgians on child death prevention. Topics included the importance of a safe sleep environment for children, water safety, fire safety and car seat safety.
To access the DFCS Quarterly Child Death Analysis, visit http://dhs.georgia.gov/protecting-georgias-most-precious-asset.