I have in my hands two manuals which I was able to aquire through my means of research. One of those manuals is titled “Working with Child Deprivation Cases in Georgia’s Juvenile Courts A Reference Manual for Speical Assistant Attorneys General” The Second manual I was able to aquire is titled “Working with Child Deprivation Cases in Georgia’s Juvenile Courts A Reference Manual for Department of Family and Children Services Case Managers.
Now the first interesting thing I found is that these two manuals are mirrored images of each other. The only difference is the title. I also have in my hands “The Uniform Rules for the Juvenile Court of Georgia”. This manual is also a mirror image of the two previous manuals.
In the DFCS manual the statement is stated “Since the main definition of deprivation in the Juvenile Code is purposefully written without specific language, you may have difficulty in certain circumstances determining if a child should be considered deprived. Your DFCS policy manual can porvide you with assistance in these situations. You often need to refer to the DFCS guidlines for determining who is a deprived child and when it is appropriate to file a petition.”
The code in the DFCS Manual lists four circumstances in which a child can be considered “deprived”.
“When the child is without proper parental care or control, subsistence, education as required by law, or other control necessary for his physical, mental or emotional health or morals: has been placed for care or adotion in violation of the law; have been abandoned by his prent or other legal custodian; or is without a parent, guardian, or custodian.”
The DFCS Manual goes on to state: “1. Without Proper Parental Care or Contol- The first definition of deprivation focusing on whether the child is without proper care or control is a general “catch- all” provision. The vast majority of deprivation petitons are filed on this basis. You may notice the statutory definition of deprivation is written in broad, non specific language. This area of the code is to be “liberally construed” by the court in order to assist and protect “children whose well-being is t hreatened.” (O.C. G. A.15-11-1(1) Moss v Moss, 135 Ga. App. 401 (1975).
They use this language to pull children out of homes for no reason other than they need to fill a bed.
In the Manual for the Assitants Attorney General it is stated as ” The first provision is a general “catch- all” definition of deprivation and most petitions re filed on this basis. You may notice that hte staturory definition of deprivation is written in broad, non-specific language. This area of the Code is to be “liberally construed”
by the court in order to assist and protect “children whose well- being is threatened.” (O.C. G.A.15-11-1(1). The definition of deprivation is broad enough to allow “sufficient latitude of discretion for the juvenile court.”
Moss V Moss. 135 Ga. App. 401 (1975) The Court of Appeals has held that this definition of deprivation is not uncontitutional on the grounds of vagueness. Jones et al. v. Dept. of Human Resources, 168 Ga. App 915 (1983)
The one exception to this “catch- all” phrase is that a child should not be declared “deprived” simply because the child might be considered “better off” in an different enviroment. It may not intercede simply because the child’s lot is substandard. A mother’s failure to live up to societal norms for productivity, morality, cleanliness, and responsiblity does not rob her of her right to raise her own children….” R.C.N. V State Of Georgia, 141 Ga. App. 490 (1977)
The manual for the Attorney goes on to state ” When a finding is based upon unsanitary or unsafe conditions in the home, it is necessary to make specific findings of fact as to how these condtitions adversely affect the child. In the interest of D.S. et al., chidlren., 217 Ga. App.29 (1995). As a result, it is necessary for DFCS to present evidence not only of the conditions within the house, but also how those conditions affected the child physically, mentally, emotionally and morally.
As you the reader can see the same language is used in both manuals. It is also used in the manual used by the judges. The same case law is noted, and the same attitude is postured.
The DFCS manual states. ” A finding of deprivation is not a finding of some sort of “fault” upon the abilities and actions of that child’s parents. The dfinition of a deprived child focuses on the needs and safety of the child regardless of whether the behavior of the child’s parent’s either caused the child’s deprivation or could have prevented it. …. while the state may not sit idly by as a child suffers unconsicionable hardship, neither may it blithely intercede simply because the child’s lot is substandard. A mother’s failure to live up to societal norms for productivity, morality, cleanliness, and responsibility does not rob her of her right to raise her own children….”
Both of these manuals plainly state that a mother’s enviroment is not just cause for a petiton of “deprivation” the burden falls upon DFCS to show that the children were harmed, mentally, physically and morally by this enviroment. In the case of my daughter Alice Samantha Thomason and her three children, this petition can not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. The children were happy, fed, loved and taken care of. They had food, clothing and shelter. There was no deprivation at all. Their mother worked every day and the children were in school.
The abuse came when they were removed from a loving home and put in a foster home with strangers who didn’t know them and couldn’t love them the way their mother did. A resonable man would say that the deprivation was caused by Jackson County Ga. DFCS because the children were robbed of the love, and comfort zone of their mother. Their mental, physical and emotional well being was jepordized by the removal from the home.
This removal goes completly against both manuals and the Ferreira, McGough’s Juvenile Practice and Procedures (2nd ed.), 4-3 which states, “…. a child should not be declared “deprived” simply because the child might be considered “better off” in a different enviroment. ”
This was the belief and the excuse that Jackson County Ga DFCS used with my daughter’s children. They were poor and uneducated and therefore it was believed by Jackson County DFCS that the children were “better-off” in a different enviorment.
Not only have they broken the law, they have chosen to make them up as they go along. The children were not deprived. They had everything they needed, but not all they wanted. They were warm in the winter, cool in the summer, clothed, fed, had beds, dishes, were loved, cared for and taken care of. They wanted for none of the necessities of life.
IF you as a parent are fighting DFCS on the charges of deprivation, make them prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. Not just a perponderance of evidence. The reason, deprivation true deprivation is a felony. It has to be tried in the criminal courts. DFCS in Jackson County will not legally charge a parent with deprivation when the charge is bogus. The reason they know it will be thrown out and their case will be dismissed and the children will be returned to the parent and they will lose their golden goose.
Yvonne Mason, Author