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PO Box 843, Zebulon, Georgia 30295. You can donate through PayPal at the link on the bottom of the page. Becky Watts: Phone # 770-468-7583 editor(@)pikecountytimes.com
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Georgia DFCS Staff Work on the Front Line During COVID-19 Pandemic

ATLANTA — Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, staff at the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) remain committed to protecting children and serving families across Georgia. The economic impact caused by COVID-19 has drastically increased the need for food and medical assistance for many families. DFCS workers continue fulfilling their essential functions to help an increasing number of families in need despite the health risks involved.

In late March, the Division’s Office of Family Independence provided relief to millions of Georgians hit hardest by COVID-19 by issuing an additional $63M in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to eligible households. Pandemic SNAP or P-SNAP allows those not receiving the full amount for their household to automatically access additional benefits for a limited time. DFCS employees worked tirelessly to ensure the timely distribution of these benefits while simultaneously processing record applications. The agency expects to issue additional P-SNAP benefits in April.

Each day, DFCS receives an unprecedented number of new applications for public benefits via self-service platforms like gateway.ga.gov and 1-877-423-4746. Although Division operations have transformed to adhere to social distancing guidelines, employees remain productive balancing telework with other responsibilities. Since the crisis began, they’ve processed thousands of applications each day — with single-day submissions topping 16,500* applications including SNAP (food stamps), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and medical assistance (Medicaid and Peachcare).

“I am most thankful for the continued hard work, patience and cooperation of our staff during this uncertain time,” said DFCS Division Director Tom Rawlings. “Their ability and willingness to adjust during this national pandemic is essential to our collective success as an agency.”

DFCS workers also continue to respond to child abuse and neglect referrals and facilitate placements statewide. Although referrals have decreased, staff members remain vigilant in their response. When necessary and appropriate, those on the front line still complete child abuse and neglect investigations in person while assessing the exposure risk for COVID-19 at every turn. They do so in service to vulnerable children and youth across Georgia.

“With schools closed and children separated from teachers and other mandated reporters, we anticipated a decrease in reports. We’re proactively distributing resources to help families cope with COVID-19 and providing tips to help community members spot abuse,” said Mary Havick, Deputy Division Director of Child Welfare. She continued, “With so much going on we want to ensure that the health and safety of our children remains top of mind for all Georgians.”

DFCS By the Numbers: Under COVID-19 (Since March 12) [Note from the Editor: See graphic at top of the page.]

SNAP and Medicaid Applications Processed 269,127
All Renewals Processed** 176,826
Active Child Welfare Cases 21,268
Employees Teleworking 7,025
*Includes new applications for SNAP only
**Includes worker processed and automated renewal extensions approved by SNAP, TANF and Medicaid.

Like the health workers, law enforcement officers, grocery store clerks and other everyday heroes who are still on the job, DFCS employees quietly continue their work despite this outbreak. Staff throughout the state will continue press on to ensure that children are safe from abuse and families can become more self-sufficient.

About Georgia DFCS

DFCS administers foster care for children removed from their homes for their protection when they have been subjected to abuse and neglect. It is responsible for the investigation of reports of child abuse; recruitment of foster homes for abused and neglected children; issuance of SNAP, Medicaid, TANF and childcare assistance to low-income families; assistance for out-of-work parents to help them get back on their feet as well as multiple support services and programs to help families in need.

Submitted 4.22.20