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SPECIAL REPORT: DFCS and children at risk | News

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SPECIAL REPORT: DFCS and children at risk

11Alive News has spent months investigating the state's handling of cases of alleged child abuse and the troubling failures to protect at-risk children.

The Division of Family and Children Services says eleven children have died this year in Georgia despite DFCS investigations into the families.

We wanted to figure out why these children were falling through the cracks and if their deaths could have been prevented.

We focused on the case of Jadien Harvey, a two-year-old Clayton County boy who died under mysterious circumstances in July.

Clayton County Police say Jadien was being babysat by his mother's boyfriend Kemra Matthew when he suddenly stopped breathing. Ultimately, paramedics rushed all four children in the home to the hospital.

Initially, it appeared that doctors were facing a medical mystery -- an illness whose onset was sudden, severe and in Jadien's case deadly.

But investigators say they believe Jadien's injuries were the result of "child abuse" not some mystery illness.

In the months since Jadien's death, police have charged Matthew with cruelty to children and aggravated assault. Investigators allege he punched Jadien's brother Ashton in the stomach which caused internal bleeding that nearly killed him.

Police say they are investigating Jadien's death as a homicide but are waiting for the result of the toxicology report before filing charges.

11 Alive News has learned that Jadien's family was under investigation by DFCS at the time of his death.

The agency opened an investigation into allegations of abuse on April 28th. According to the case file obtained by 11 Alive News, a caseworker met with Jadien and his family four times -- the last for an in-house visit just two days before his death.

The caseworker wrote that the children appeared "happy," "smiling," and "playful" and noted that the case would be "closing soon."

When asked if this was another case of DFCS failing to recognize the danger a child was in, a spokesperson e-mailed a response,

"This is not a fair assessment. DFCS worked closely with this family and found no evidence of safety threats or impending danger."