DFCS: Muscogee County one of top GA counties with the most child - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

DFCS: Muscogee County one of top GA counties with the most child abuse cases overdue

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -
Thousands of child abuse cases are collecting dust in Georgia. To deal with the risky issue, state officials are going into overtime to tackle the problem. 

The Georgia Division of Family and children services says nearly half-a million dollars is being allocated to pay case workers who will begin working longer hours to make sure Georgia children remain safe. 

Muscogee County is one of  five counties in Georgia with the most child abuse and neglect cases overdue for more than 45 days.
     
A sudden spike in child abuse and neglect reports have overwhelmed the Georgia Department of Human Services. Statewide, thousands of cases remain incomplete.

"As of this week we immediately mandated overtime for our CPS case workers to get a backlog of overdue cases of thirty-three hundred investigated," Department of Human Services Deputy Director of Communications Ravae Graham explains.

As of June 23, 134 cases are overdue in Columbus; statewide 3,300 cases are still pending investigation.  According to DFCS, Gwinnette and Cobb County have the most overdue cases.

"Gwinnette and Cobb counties, they account for almost 40 percent of the overdue case load base in these two counties. The other areas with the high number of overdue investigations do include Muscogee, and Hall County, Clayton County, and Muscogee Counties," Graham says.

State officials believe the backlog is due to an increase of child abuse reports. Graham explains, over the past year reports have increased from around 6600 a month to about 84000  a month.
     
Case workers will be required to work a mandatory minimum of eight hours of overtime per week to tackle the backlog.
     
It's going to cost the state hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime pay. 

"$450,000 is what we're projecting to spend on overtime," Graham adds.

Interim Director Bobby Cagle says in a press release that the overdue cases represent a potential risk for vulnerable children in our state.

"This is a critical safety issue that requires swift action and that's what we're doing right now. We believe that the short-term overtime strategy coupled with additional staff will make sure that each of these overdue cases are addressed and critical decisions made as soon as possible."
     
To help tackle the huge task 500 new case workers will be hired over the next three years, according to Graham. 

175 of those workers begin training on July 1. Training takes about six to eight weeks to complete. 
     
$1.7 million has been allocated to fund the new hires. 

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