ATLANTA (WXIA) – More than 10,000 of you signed 11Alive's petition this year to hold Georgia's Department of Family and Children's Services accountable – to demand greater transparency. Now, you're getting it with a new law that forces DFCS to disclose more about how children in their care lived -- and died.
Lawmakers say it is time to shine a light on case files that have been covered in darkness – lives before lost to black ink.
"I really feel like in a situation where a child dies, we need to share the maximum amount of information possible," said DFCS Director Bobby Cagle.
Even with the law, Cagle says we won't know a child's name or personal medical history – but we will know more about the role DFCS, police and the courts played in their lives.
After the death of Emani Moss, 11Alive News requested case summaries of every child that had died in the past two years with a DFCS history. We learned about children like Hannah Truelove, found murdered in the woods – even after three requests to put her in protective custody. There was 12-year-old Demiya Griffin, who died even after a caseworker cited her family's "inability to resolve conflict." Just last month, Heaven Woods, a girl who died, despite an open investigation into allegations of abuse.
"I'm accountable for that," Cagle said. "Regardless if it occurred in 2009 or it happens today, I accept full responsibility for that."
But accountability cannot happen if the public has no idea something went wrong. That's why we are putting the new law to the test. We've requested these case files again to see how they compare, what else we can learn, when the pages no longer look like this.