Georgia Child Abuse Registry 2020 Update

PLACEMENT ON REGISTRY

Beginning January 1, 2020

Upon a finding by CPS that an investigation into child abuse is substantiated, the investigator will notify Division of Family and Children Services that the investigation is substantiated. DFCS will send notice to the individual substantiated of child abuse of the intent to place that person on the registry. 

That individual will have 30 days to respond in writing to request a hearing on the matter. A person accused of child abuse has the right to challenge these allegations and require that DFCS prove to an administrative law judge by a preponderance of evidence that the abuse occurred at the hand/act of the individual. 

There is the right to appeal to Superior Court from the administrative court. Constitutional rights should be preserved at the administrative level by motion.

If the individual accused of child abuse fails to request the hearing within 30 days, then the time to challenge is expired and no other appeal is available. The individual will be placed on the child abuse registry along with the report.

Up until December 31, 2019

 DFCS automatically places any substantiated investigation and any parent whose child is adjudicated dependent on the Georgia Child Abuse Registry. What does that mean in real terms for real people? What’s the danger?

The Child Abuse Registry is relatively new, no one can predict what the State will do with it. Can the State change the uses? Modify it? Who knows what changes will come. Fighting placement on the child abuse registry when you receive notice is your only opportunity to challenge placement on the registry.

DFCS, the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services, investigates allegations of child abuse. They must determine whether to substantiate

 an allegation of child abuse. According to the DFCS website, the definition of a substantiated allegation of abuse is

An investigation disposition by a CPS investigator concludes, based on a preponderance of evidence collected, that the allegation of maltreatment as defined by state law and CPS procedure requirements is true.

The decision of DFCS about what a preponderance of evidence means is not the final answer though.

Two different things happen as a result of a substantiated DFCS investigation. One, DFCS becomes involved with the family in which the abuse is said to have occurred. This aspect is covered in the rest of this book. The second thing is that DFCS generates a report and places the alleged abusive person on the state’s Child Abuse Registry.

REMOVAL FROM REGISTRYNEW OPTION

When an individual’s name has been on the registry three (3) years, that person may request that DFCS remove them from the registry. The Georgia law refers this as expungement. The request must be in writing. The Office of State Administrative Hearings will schedule a hearing to consider:

(1) the initial allegations of abuse, 

(2) the relative seriousness of those initial charges, 

(3) the criminal history of the individual, 

(4) whether the individual poses a risk to the child in the initial investigation, 

(5) whether the individual poses a risk to the community, 

(6) whether the inclusion on the list impacted employment and licensure opportunities of the individual, 

(7) any treatment, training, education, and/or rehabilitation obtained by the individuals, and

(8) whatever other factors deemed important by the Court. The decision may be appealed.

The law does exclude some individuals from removal: 

  • If the DFCS/CPS Juvenile Court case which placed the individual on the registry is still open;
  • If the act that caused the person to be placed on the registry resulted in the death of a child;
  • If the individual’s parental rights have been terminated, voluntarily or involuntarily due to the incident that placed the individual on the registry.

© Nancee Tomlinson 2020

Child Abuse Registry: Why Fight? Victory Without a Contested Hearing in 20 minutes.

2020 Update to Georgia Child Abuse Registry law. Case closed in 20 minutes before the judge. A technical discrepancy created an issue which got a Child Abuse Registry (CAR) hearing ended in less than 20 minutes from roll call to decision. Technical discrepancies occur frequently.

That doesn’t account for the couple of hours spent reviewing, preparing, and writing. But preparation and experience create better opportunities.

Anyone who receives a notice needs to fight that placement.

Receiving a Notice for the Child Abuse Registry is intimidating and scary. DFCS/ Department of Human Services must prove the parts of the “substantiation.” Knowing how to fight the allegations is important.

The MOST IMPORTANT STEP is filing the request for a hearing. If you fail to request a hearing, nothing can be done. Requesting a hearing is critical.

Once the hearing is requested, all manner of things can happen, technicalities can create a reversal. Attorneys who practice in Child Abuse Registry cases know the ins and outs of how these cases work. Finding the weaknesses in these cases, which are new and unique, requires time but in the end hiring attorney makes a difference.

Filing for the hearing is the most important step.

© Nancee Tomlinson 2018dsc00324

Read More