A deprived child is one who is:
- Without proper parental care or control, subsistence, education as required by law, or other care or control necessary for his physical, mental, or emotional health or morals
- Has been placed for care or adoption in violation of law
- Has been abandoned by parents or other legal custodian
- Is without a parent, guardian, or custodian
The safety and well-being of deprived children is within the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court. The prosecution of parents or others who deprive children is a matter for the adult courts.
Most child deprivation complaints are filed by the Clarke County Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS). DFCS will be represented in court by the Georgia Attorney General's Office. A shelter care hearing is scheduled when the originating complaint is presented to the court.
Children who are the subject of a complaint alleging deprivation have a right to be represented in court by a guardian ad litem, a person who has a responsibility to investigate the case and recommend an outcome that is in the best interest of the child. Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) may be assigned to assist deprived children.
The legal parent of a child who is alleged to be deprived has a right to be represented by counsel in a child deprivation case. If the parent cannot afford to hire counsel without undue financial hardship, the court will appoint counsel free of charge.