DeKalb County Child Advocacy Center
The DeKalb County Child Advocacy Center provides legal representation and ongoing advocacy for children in foster care. Our goal is to protect the legal rights of child-clients, advocate for resources that improve their well-being outcomes and provide them with permanent, safe and stable homes.
The DeKalb County Child Advocacy Center (DCCAC) represents the legal rights and best interests of abused and neglected children in all dependency matters before the DeKalb County Juvenile Court. Child-clients are generally placed in the legal custody of the Department of Family and Children Services (foster care), and are physically placed in foster homes, group homes, and therapeutic institutions, or with biological and fictive relatives. DCCAC attorneys, investigators and support staff investigate allegations of abuse and litigate dependency cases that are before the Juvenile Court. The DCCAC also provides ongoing case monitoring and advocacy by collaborating with multidisciplinary stakeholders to ensure that our clients’ wellbeing needs are met and that permanent homes and caretakers are identified.
GEORGIA’S FIRST MODEL FOR A DEPENDENT CHILD’S RIGHT TO REPRESENTATION
In 2014, Georgia law was changed to formally recognize the child as a party with a right to legal representation in all abuse and neglect cases. However, DeKalb County has ensured legal representation of child clients in dependency proceedings since the inception of the Child Advocacy Center (DCCAC) in April of 2003. DCCAC was created in response to a federal class action lawsuit known as “Kenny A.” This lawsuit alleged that Georgia’s foster children, particularly those residing in Fulton and DeKalb counties, failed to receive adequate care or legal representation. By establishing the DCCAC, DeKalb County became Georgia’s first jurisdiction to recognize that all children who were in jeopardy of being placed in foster care had a constitutional right to legal representation.
ROLE OF CHILD ADVOCATE ATTORNEYS
Child Advocate Attorneys are responsible for the management of large case loads, maintaining comprehensive physical case files, as well as filing pleadings and motions with the Court in response to the administrative and procedural elements of each case. Child Advocate Investigators work under the supervision and direction of attorneys to assist with the investigation of abuse and neglect allegations and the preparation of cases. Investigations include field interviews with child-clients and other relevant persons, conducting home assessments, visits to foster case placements such as: group homes, residential treatment facilities and detention, reviewing all related legal, medical, therapeutic, placement, and biographical information documents, as well as subpoenaing relevant persons and documents for trial. Child Advocate Attorneys actively participate in the litigation process by examining witnesses, submitting evidence and making independent recommendations to the Court regarding issues of dependency, custody and permanency planning. Child Advocate Attorneys monitor cases so long as child-clients remain in foster care to ensure that the resources provided adequately address the needs of the child. The ultimate role of the Child Advocate Attorney is to advocate for a permanent and safe home for every child-client.
DCCAC recognizes that advocating on behalf of abused and neglected children means more than courtroom representation. Effective child advocacy requires the consideration of legislative, policy and judicial efforts that further the infusion of adequate services and resources for families and children in need. The DCCAC seeks to serve as a conduit for the development of a multidisciplinary approach to addressing the needs of children through the creation of collaborative relationships with service providers and community supporters.
DeKalb County Child Advocacy Center
Gregory A. Adams Juvenile Justice Center
4309 Memorial Drive – Third Floor
Decatur, Georgia 30032
Chandra P. Wilson, Esq