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DFCS v. OCA

February 23, 2016
A father and son read a book.

Georgia’s children can face many challenges when it comes to getting proper care and attention, so it only makes sense that they have multiple agencies to help out along the way. The Department of Human Services’ Division of Family and Children Services and the Office of the Child Advocate provide support for Georgia’s youngest residents.

While these 2 agencies sound similar in name, they actually serve families in slightly different ways. Let’s see how they compare:

Division of Family and Children Services

DFCS defends and protects children whose families face difficulties such as job loss or abusive situations. A few of the agency’s many programs include Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, foster care, Energy Assistance Program and Medicaid.

Since DFCS is such a large program here in Georgia, there are offices assigned to each county. You can locate your county office on their map and call 1-855-GACHILD day or night to report child abuse or neglect.

Office of the Child Advocate

OCA defines 3 purposes for their services to Georgia:

  1. They provide independent oversight of individuals, organizations and agencies who offer services or care for children. Investigators from OCA look into complaints filed against the providers in order to make sure the children they serve are healthy and safe. For OCA to investigate a provider, it must have already been investigated by DFCS in the past 5 years.
  2. OCA manages statewide Protocol for handling child abuse cases.
  3. The agency administers and approves guardian ad litem training, which is required before someone can represent a child in disputed custody and divorce cases.

Review

Quiz time! Let’s see if you can identify some responsibilities of each agency:

  • Where will you go if you need help getting food stamps? DFCS.
  • Where will you go if you need training for how to update the local Protocol? OCA.
  • Which agency will you call if you need to report child abuse? DFCS.
  • Which agency oversees the other? OCA.

Thanks to the hard work of these 2 state agencies, we can rest assured that Georgia’s kids are in good hands.

Rachel Hart

About the Author

Rachel Hart is the User Experience Designer for Digital Services Georgia. On Georgia.gov, she makes government material approachable with writing, infographics, videos, and other imagery.

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