Investigators with child protective services have been ordered to work at least eight hours per week of overtime to address 3,300 overdue cases statewide.
Bobby Cagle, who became interim director of the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services last month, ordered the overtime on Tuesday. The overtime mandate will continue until the backlog is eliminated.
Ninety-five percent of overdue investigations are expected to be completed by July 31. Agency policy calls for child safety investigations to be completed within 45 days, barring extenuating circumstances.
In Hall County, staff from surrounding counties are assisting to address the county’s 187 overdue investigations, according to DFCS spokeswoman Susan Boatwright. She said the number of overdue cases in the county has decreased by 10 percent each week for the past two weeks.
“Interim Hall County Director Audrey Brannen anticipates this number to decline more rapidly with the implementation of overtime and the additional staff assisting in Hall County,” Boatwright said in an email Thursday. “All Hall County child welfare staff are working overtime to safely disposition these cases through the mandatory overtime project.”
DFCS reports an increased number of reported cases and increased attention to the quality of investigations have contributed to the backlog.
Gov. Nathan Deal has said 500 additional caseworkers will be funded statewide over the course of three years, including 175 case manager positions that have recently been filled or are in the process of being filled.
Boatwright said the 175 case managers “are expected to have a positive impact on the caseloads once they are fully trained and available to work.”
She said most of the positions are filled and the new hires are in the training and certification process.
Priority will be given to cases with higher risk, and Cagle urged DFCS employees to “give special attention to cases having allegations of abuse, young children, and a history of multiple reports.”
“Each of these overdue cases is a potential risk for vulnerable children in our state, and this requires swift action on our part,” Cagle said in a written statement. “We must make sure these children are in a safe situation as soon as possible.”