Welcome to the website for Georgia's Office of the Child Advocate. We are here to provide the public and policymakers with the advice, research, data, resources, and assistance they need to ensure our state's at-risk and foster children are safe and sound, preferably in the places they already call home.
When the Legislature created the Office of Child Advocate in 2000, it gave us the following charge:
"In keeping with this article's purpose of assisting, protecting, and restoring the security of children whose well-being is threatened, it is the intent of the General Assembly that the mission of protection of the children of this state should have the greatest legislative and executive priority. Recognizing that the needs of children must be attended to in a timely manner and that more aggressive action should be taken to protect children from abuse and neglect, the General Assembly creates the Office of the Child Advocate for the Protection of Children to provide independent oversight of persons, organizations, and agencies responsible for providing services to or caring for children who are victims of child abuse and neglect, or whose domestic situation requires intervention by the state. The Office of the Child Advocate for the Protection of Children will provide children with an avenue through which to seek relief when their rights are violated by state officials and agents entrusted with their protection and care." OCGA § 15-11-171 (b).
During the legislative session of 2008, the Family and Children Services Strengthening Act was signed into law. This act broaden the agency's scope of work by consolidating the Office of Child Fatality Review into the Office of the Child Advocate. The newly acquired staff provides direction, oversight and training for each of the 159 Child Fatality Review Committees. The purpose of local CFR Committees is to provide a confidential forum to determine the cause and circumstances around child deaths. The CFR Committees work not only to review the circumstances of deaths, but also to identify opportunities for prevention and education.
How do we fulfill our obligations to the people of Georgia? We feel we can best carry out our legislative mandate of providing independent oversight of our state's child welfare system by pursuing three tasks: case evaluation and assistance, policy and practice consulting, and education and advocacy.
- We will provide the best possible evaluation of complaints about individual children and provide good advice designed to remedy the concerns presented.
OCA will serve as an objective, helpful ombudsman for those concerned about individual cases of children in the custody of the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) or who are/have been involved with DFCS. We understand that no matter how well a state's child protective services system functions, there will from time to time be problems and bottlenecks. We will use our evaluation and policy resources to help DFCS, child advocates, and families achieve the best possible outcomes for children.
Those concerned about specific cases of maltreated children can contact OCA at 404-656-4200 or by clicking on the following: Complaint Form.
- By consulting with legislators, agency representatives, and child advocates, we will help design and build a better child welfare system.
OCA will provide information, research, data, and policy advice to policymakers and child advocacy organizations throughout this state. We understand that a state's child welfare system is complicated and complex; therefore, a small agency such as OCA can help those charged with creating policy better understand the system's strengths, weaknesses, needs and challenges. We also understand that in state government there are sometimes bottlenecks and obstacles to good policy and practice; therefore, an independent agency such as ours has the opportunity to recommend changes that will make our system more effective and efficient.
- We will educate everyone on the needs of our abused, neglected, and at-risk children, and we will advocate for them and their needs.
We all desire a more efficient and effective child protective services system in Georgia. As "independent insiders," our staff can provide objective advocacy and advice for those seeking to improve the lot of our at-risk and maltreated children. This Office of the Child Advocate will be an office of and for child advocates throughout our state, and together we will work to create the best possible environment in which to raise safe, cared-for, well-educated, and well-adjusted children.
Thank you for visiting our website. We hope you'll find it helpful. And remember, we may be the "Office", but it takes all of Georgia's citizens to be the Child Advocates. May God grant us all the ability to carry out this important mission of protecting and rearing our state's children.
~ The Office of the Child Advocate