In Georgia, a deprived child is “one who is without proper parental care or control, subsistence, education as required by law, or other care or control necessary for one’s physical, mental or emotional health or morals; or one who has been placed for care or adoption in violation of law; or one who has been abandoned by parents or other legal custodian; or one who is without a parent, guardian or custodian.” (See Georgia Code Section 15-11-2)
If you have been accused of child deprivation or neglect, you are facing a serious allegation. Parents of children who are found to be deprived are at risk having their children removed from their care and possibly even having their parental rights terminated.
‘Child’ means any individual who is: (A) Under the age of 17 years;(B) Under the age of 21 years, who committed an act of delinquency before reaching the age of 17 years, and who has been placed under the supervision of the court or on probation to the court; or (C) Under the age of 18 years, if alleged to be a ‘deprived child’ or a ‘status offender’ as defined by this Code section. A deprivation case can be initiated by several different parties including DFACS, Police, schools, relatives, or medical providers.
DFACS may have parents enter a Case Plan or Homestead services. A Case Plan is “a written agreement that defines those actions that will allow a family to achieve a level of functioning, ensures protection and safety of children and eliminates, or significantly decreases, the risk of maltreatment. It includes developing measurable and specific outcomes directly related to the maltreatment and to risk reduction. Outcomes/goals are broken down into specific steps with time frames for accomplishment and review.” (http://dhs.georgia.gov).
Homestead Services are the Department of Family and Children’s Services’ (DFACS) “most intensive family preservation service. It is a contracted service. It is a family focused, crisis-oriented, short-term (180 days), intensive in-home counseling program for families with children at risk of foster care placement. Homestead Services may also be provided to families who are ready for reunification.” (http://dhs.georgia.gov)
Ultimately, if the family preservation plans do not work parental rights can be terminated. What happens when parental rights are terminated? “An order terminating parental rights ends all rights and obligations of the parent with respect to the child and/or the child to the parent, including the right of inheritance. The parent will have no right to object or not object to the future adoption of that child into another home. The termination of one parent’s rights with respect to the child has no effect on the rights of another legal parent to the care and control of that child.” (http://dhs.georgia.gov)
So avoiding having a deprivation case initiated against you is important because the implications could be dire. Once that has happened, though, deprivation proceedings can be tricky and hard to navigate, they also move fast, much faster than cases in the adult criminal or civil system. If your child has been taken away, and/or you are facing a deprivation case we can help. Call us immediately at (404) 880-9393 for a consultation.