Attorney and child advocate takes on change at DFACS - CBS46 News

Attorney and child advocate takes on change at DFACS

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ATLANTA, GA (CBS46) -

Since shortly after her birth, Emani Moss had a case file with the state. The Division of Family and Children Services was called six times to investigate abuse allegations.

Her father and stepmother are now accused of starving her to death. Emani was 10 years old and only 32 pounds when she died.

Attorney Tom Rawlings is a former state Child Advocate for the Protection of Children. He was charged with helping hold DFACS accountable.

"It concerns me greatly that there was all this history and we know of a very clear opportunity to intervene," said Rawlings.

The fifth abuse allegation concerning Moss came from a school. The allegation was at home Moss was hit in the back and head with a belt. According to state records, the injury was considered insignificant and corporal punishment.

 "Even a lay person would consider that a beat down," said Rawlings. He said case workers must have better training on what is corporal punishment.

Previously, Moss' stepmother was convicted of child cruelty for beating the child.

Rawlings has these suggestions for how DFACS can improve: family history must be looked at no matter what the current situation looks like, identify factors that lead to better predictions of when a child is in danger and more training and education on red flags.

He said it's important to not panic about how the system is working now.

"Accountability in this situation is not just getting rid of one or two people or reprimanding someone or changing one or two policies," said Rawlings. "It is constantly focusing on the issue at hand, focused on great training and really being transparent about the process."

Rawlings encourages a public health approach to child welfare were practices and outcomes are constantly reviewed.

"To make it work, we can't focus on it when something bad goes on, we've got to focus on the system and monitor the system all the time, every year," said Rawlings.

DFACS is conducting an investigation into the handling of the Moss case.

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