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The Georgia Cold Case Project

The purpose of selecting both an intervention and comparison group was to ensure the review of a representative sample of cold cases as well as define a mechanism for tracking cases over time and comparing outcomes. Once a reasonable amount of time has passed since the completion of case reviews (March 2010), the Justice for Children Committee will be interested in comparing the achievement of permanency across the two groups. If the two groups are similar and if the program implemented produced its desired results, the hope is that the intervention group will achieve permanency at a higher rate than the comparison group. Since the achievement of permanency is a process and not the immediate result of file review, it is recommended that case outcomes be examined after a twelve month follow-up period has occurred.

File Review Results

Data captured during the file review process focused on: the child, including reasons for DFCS involvement, abuses suffered, and physical and mental health, disabilities, and special needs; the parents and family; DFCS care; barriers to achieving permanency; and whether legal requirements were met in the handling of the case. Highlights from each area are presented below.

On average it took Fellows 8.6 hours to complete each case review including travel, actual case review time, writing narrative, and participation in follow- up calls. A total of 1,811 hours were dedicated by eleven Fellows to review all 214 cases. The range for completing case reviews varied widely with one of the main variants being travel time. Once on-site at the DFCS office, paper file review time averaged four hours per case.

The Children

The 214 children reviewed were removed from their home from birth to age 17; the average child was eight years old at removal. The typical child was 14 years old and had been in care for six years (ranging from less than one year to 16 years). The vast majority (85%) had some type of identified disability.

Residential therapeutic treatment

46

24%

Group home

43

23%

Foster family

30

16%

Institution

26

14%

Pre-adoptive home

18

10%

Foster relative

15

8%

Juvenile justice placement

6

3%

Other

4

2%

At the time cases were reviewed, 189 children (88%) were still in DFCS custody. Of the 25 discharged children, one-third had aged out of care as legal orphans (without achieving permanency). Table 5 shows the placement at the time of file review for the children in DFCS custody. Nearly two thirds of the children (64%) lived in some type of institution or group home; one third was in a family setting (foster family, foster relative, or pre-adoptive home). “Placement” is a rapidly changing situation, as the group had between one and 42 different placements, with an average of nine per child (25% of the children had a dozen or more placements). Table 5. Placement at Case Review for Children Still in DFCS Care Number Percent

By the end of the project (March 2010), 76% of the children were still in DFCS care. Of the 52 discharged from care, 40% had

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