child abuse

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Authorities say a 2-year-old Florida boy was hospitalized with marijuana and cocaine in his system.

Peter Haden / WLRN

Anyone who donated to a Florida couple who convinced their 13-year-old son he was dying of brain cancer will get a refund from GoFundMe.

Children removed from their parents due to alleged abuse or neglect would have the right to have a lawyer under a measure before the Florida Constitution Revision Commission. Some worry that could do more harm than good.

Two Florida lawmakers are hoping to get more pro-bono attorneys to help kids with special needs for the 2018 legislative session.

The case of a surviving abuse victim that led to the overhaul of Florida’s child welfare system may be close to reaching a resolution. While the claims bill to further compensate the victim has usually died in the past legislative sessions, it’s now headed to the Governor for final approval.

The Florida Senate unanimously passed a bill approving the remaining payment of $3.75 million to the surviving victim in a child abuse case. 

A bill further compensating a surviving child of an abusive adoptive home is starting to move in the Florida Senate.

A Florida lawmaker is hoping a claims bill to further compensate a child abuse victim will pass the state legislature for 2017. This will be the fourth year the measure comes before lawmakers.

Will Florida Moms adopt the “Baby Box?” The committee that reviews child abuse death cases is hoping that could be a successful effort to help Florida in the future, and got an update on that Wednesday.

Helping young human trafficking victims and making sure juveniles get the help they need are among the legislative goals of two state agencies that deal with children.

Sarasota County Sheriff's Office

A Florida radiologist and his wife are facing child abuse charges after authorities say they routinely tied up a 12-year-old girl who lived at their home and confined her to a playhouse.

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Authorities in Florida have charged a woman with intentionally poisoning a girl in her care by making her take excessive amounts of iron supplements, damaging her liver, court records show.

Manatee County Sheriff's Office

The mother of a girl found dead in a freezer was accused of beating her five children for years in a home that at times was filled with rats and roaches, according to documents released today.

The head of Florida’s child welfare agency as well as some state lawmakers are renewing a push towards mental health and substance abuse reform in connection with protecting kids in the state’s care.

The local and statewide panels tasked with reviewing child abuse death cases is holding a summit next month to bring them all together.

A Jacksonville dentist is being sued after several parents claimed he abused child patients, the Florida Times-Union reports. Four people filed the class-action lawsuit against Howard Schneider, who is under an active investigation by the Florida Attorney General’s Office.

Children's Advocates Mourn Dead Bills

May 1, 2015
Florida Legislature

Children's issues had a rocky legislative session, thanks in part to its abrupt ending.

One proposal that would have boosted health and safety standards for early-education programs (SB 7006 and HB 7017) died for the second straight year. Supporters said the proposal's failure means leaving some kids in risky situations.

"It was a major disappointment," said Ted Granger, executive director of the United Way of Florida. "The failure to pass these bills ensures that those children are going to be staying in unsafe places for another year."

A couple of measures aimed at helping Florida’s most vulnerable are now heading to the Senate floor, after passing their last committee Monday.

Polk County Sheriff's Office

  A baby who was found dead in her car seat in a Florida restaurant parking lot had lost more than one-third of her body weight in the 22 days since she was born, a medical examiner testified Friday.

Betsey Kee Stephens died as a result of malnutrition and starvation, said Dr. Vera Volnikh, Polk County’s assistant medical examiner.

“When we examined her stomach, small, intestine and large intestine, all of them were empty,” Volnikh said. “There was no fat tissue on this baby.”

Senate Bill Aims to Shift More Florida Foster Kids Out of Group Homes

Mar 16, 2015
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As lawmakers continue efforts to shore up the front lines of Florida’s child-protection system, they are also eyeing the back end — that is, what happens to children who have been removed from family homes due to abuse and neglect.

House and Senate committees this week examined the options for those children, with the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee on Thursday passing a bill (SB 940) aimed at helping foster children who live in group homes.

 After John Jonchuck was accused of throwing his 5-year-old daughter Phoebe off a Pinellas County bridge last month, The Florida Department of Children and Families deployed a Critical Incident Rapid Response Team to investigate the agency's handling of the case.

According to the official report released Monday, the agency could have done a better job to protect Phoebe from her tragic death.

In less than a week, officials will publish a state report asking whether the tragic death of a little girl last month could have been prevented as part of an investigation. But, a panel of lawmakers got a bit of a preview Wednesday.

Hours before Phoebe Jonchuck was thrown over a bridge allegedly by her father, the state’s child abuse hotline received a warning call that went ignored. It’s a call that’s gotten quite a bit of media attention.

Report: More Work Needed to Fix Child Protection System

Feb 3, 2015

A new report from the Florida Institute for Child Welfare --- created last year as part of a wide-ranging reform law --- calls for state leaders to go well beyond their previous efforts to fix the state's troubled child-protection system.

The 50-page report, submitted Friday to Gov. Rick Scott, Senate President Andy Gardiner and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, focused on "the need for a statewide, system-wide child welfare strategic plan" that pulls together the disparate parts of Florida's response to the abuse and neglect of children.

Attorney General Pam Bondi says she’s on board with a bill making it easier for sexual abuse victims under the age of 17 to privately record their attacker so it can hold up in a Florida court.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to get that through because that’s very, very important. But, just know, that it’s a very narrow, narrow field, and only has to do with children and rape victims—not just at the hands of their parents, but any pedophile,” said Bondi, during a recent Associated Press gathering in Tallahassee.

For years, claims of abuse, beatings, rapes and murder of students by staff have come from those who survived the Dozier School for Boys,  the now-closed state-run reform school in the Florida Panhandle.

Many families are still wondering what happened to their loved ones, and some are getting answers as researchers from the University of South Florida identify remains that have been exhumed from the grounds of Dozier.

Associated Press

 A father accused of throwing his 5-year-old daughter off of a bridge to her death last week was ordered Monday to undergo a mental health evaluation and was appointed a public defender.

John Jonchuck appeared to refuse to answer questions during the hearing in Pinellas County. When a judge asked Jonchuck at a first appearance hearing last week if he wanted a court-appointed attorney, Jonchuck said he wanted to "leave it in the hands of God."

A South Carolina mother who drove her three children into the ocean off Daytona Beach will learn her fate during a court hearing on her mental health.

During Tuesday's hearing in Daytona Beach, psychologists who treated 33-year-old Ebony Wilkerson will offer their opinion on whether she needs to be forcibly hospitalized for treatment.

If Circuit Judge Leah Case decides no hospitalization is required, Wilkerson could be released under the court's supervision.

The family of a 5-year-old girl who died after being taken into foster care has filed a federal lawsuit against Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, the Tampa Bay Times reports. The family says the failure to provide the child with a mandatory medical screening led to her death from untreated tonsillitis. According to the Times, the child went without a medical screening for three days, which is a violation of state requirements.

A mentally disabled woman who pleaded guilty to attempting to smother her baby withdrew her guilty plea on Monday, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Volusia County Sheriff's Office

A Volusia County woman has been charged in an attempted murder-suicide after serving non-toxic toilet bowl cleaner to her two children and ingesting it herself, the Orlando Sentinel reports. 

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