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Georgia Code - Domestic Relations - Title 19, Section 19-15-2

(a) Each county shall be required to establish a child abuse protocol as provided in this Code section.

(b) The chief superior court judge of the circuit in which the county is located shall establish a child abuse protocol committee as provided in subsection (c) of this Code section and shall appoint an interim chairperson who shall preside over the first meeting and the chief superior court judge shall appoint persons to fill any vacancies on the committee. Thus established, the committee shall thereafter elect a chairperson from its membership.

(c)(1) Each of the following agencies of the county shall designate a representative to serve on the committee:

(A) The office of the sheriff;

(B) The county department of family and children services;

(C) The office of the district attorney;

(D) The juvenile court;

(E) The magistrate court;

(F) The county board of education;

(G) The county mental health organization;

(H) The office of the chief of police of a county in counties which have a county police department;

(I) The office of the chief of police of the largest municipality in the county;

(J) The county board of health, which shall designate a physician to serve on the committee; and

(K) The office of the coroner or county medical examiner.


(2) In addition to the representatives serving on the committee as provided for in paragraph (1) of this subsection,

 

the chief superior court judge shall designate a representative from a local citizen or advocacy group which focuses on child abuse awareness and prevention.

(3) If any designated agency fails to carry out its duties relating to participation on the committee, the chief superior court judge of the circuit may issue an order requiring the participation of such agency. Failure to comply with such order shall be cause for punishment as for contempt of court.

(d) Each protocol committee shall elect or appoint a chairperson who shall be responsible for ensuring that written protocol procedures are followed by all agencies. That person can be independent of agencies listed in paragraph (1) of subsection (c) of this Code section. The child abuse protocol committee thus established may appoint such additional members as necessary and proper to accomplish the purposes of the protocol committee.

(e) The protocol committee shall adopt a written child abuse protocol which shall be filed with the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Resources and the Georgia Child Fatality Review Panel, a copy of which shall be furnished to each agency in the county handling the cases of abused children. The protocol shall be a written document outlining in detail the procedures to be used in investigating and prosecuting cases arising from alleged child abuse and the methods to be used in coordinating treatment programs for the perpetrator, the family, and the child. The protocol shall also outline procedures to be used when child abuse occurs in a household where there is violence between past or present spouses, persons who are parents of the same child, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children, or other persons living or formerly living in the same household. The protocol adopted shall not be inconsistent with the policies and procedures of the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Resources.

(f) The purpose of the protocol shall be to ensure coordination and cooperation between all agencies involved in a child abuse case so as to increase the efficiency of all agencies handling such cases, to minimize the stress created for the allegedly abused child by the legal and investigatory process, and to ensure that more effective treatment is provided for the perpetrator, the family, and the child, including counseling.

(g) Upon completion of the writing of the child abuse protocol, the protocol committee shall continue in existence and shall meet at least semiannually for the purpose of evaluating the effectiveness of the protocol and appropriately modifying and updating same.

(h) Each protocol committee shall adopt or amend its written child abuse protocol no later than July 1, 2001, to specify the circumstances under which law enforcement officers will and will not be required to accompany child abuse investigators from the county department of family and children services when these investigators investigate reports of child abuse. In determining when law enforcement officers shall and shall not accompany child abuse investigators, the protocol committee shall consider the need to protect the alleged victim and the need to preserve the confidentiality of the report. Each protocol committee shall establish joint work efforts between the law enforcement and child abuse investigative agencies in child abuse investigations. The adoption or amendment of the protocol shall also describe measures which can be taken within the county to prevent child abuse and shall be filed with and furnished to the same entities with or to which an original protocol is required to be filed or furnished. The protocol will be further amended to specify procedures to be adopted by the protocol committee to ensure that written protocol procedures are followed.

(i) The protocol committee shall issue a report no later than the first day of July in 2001 and no later than the first day of July each year thereafter. That report shall evaluate the extent to which child abuse investigations during the 12 months prior to the report have complied with the child abuse protocols of the protocol committee, recommend measures to improve compliance, and describe which measures taken within the county to prevent child abuse have been successful. The report shall be transmitted to the county governing authority, the fall term grand jury of the judicial circuit, the Georgia Child Fatality Review Panel, and the chief superior court judge.

(j) By July 1, 2001, members of each protocol committee shall receive appropriate training. As new members are appointed, they will also receive training within 12 months after their appointment. The Department of Human Resources shall provide such training.

(k) The protocol committee shall adopt a written sexual abuse and exploitation protocol which shall be filed with the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Resources and the Office of the Child Advocate for the Protection of Children, a copy of which shall be furnished to each agency in the county handling the cases of sexually abused or exploited children. The protocol shall be a written document outlining in detail the procedures to be used in investigating and prosecuting cases arising from alleged child sexual abuse and exploitation and the procedures to be followed concerning the obtainment of and payment for sexual assault examinations. Each protocol committee shall adopt or amend its written sexual abuse and exploitation protocol no later than December 31, 2004. The protocol may incorporate existing sexual abuse and exploitation protocols used within the county. The protocol adopted shall be consistent with the policies and procedures of the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Resources. A failure by an agency to follow the protocol shall not constitute an affirmative or other defense to prosecution of a sexual abuse or exploitation offense, nor shall a failure by an agency to follow the protocol give rise to a civil cause of action.


 

 

 

 
 

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