child welfare

Biagomala / Flickr

A former spokesman for Florida's child welfare agency is accused of child pornography.

Florida’s child welfare officials are doing a review of their system and already looking ahead legislatively on the state and national level on what can be done to further help children within the system.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry Wednesday announced his plan to consolidate the city’s two major child-welfare programs and focus on those most in need.

Curry, a former Florida Republican Party chairman and self-described fiscal conservative, said a decade ago he changed some of his views on government intervention after meeting a 93-year-old Lakeland woman who was caring for six children.

There's been a spike in the number of kids being removed from their homes in the Tampa Bay Area over the past few years. And foster care agencies are struggling to keep up with the influx.


Advocates are happy about a new law on the books slated to take effect Saturday to help protect kids within Florida’s child welfare system.

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.

Polk Child Welfare Investigator Wanted On Drug Charges

Feb 21, 2017
WMFE

Florida authorities are looking for a child protective investigator they say was dealing heroin and cocaine.

Lawmakers Poised To Pass Child Welfare Bills

Mar 3, 2016

After a spate of child deaths in Florida, the Department of Children and Families is doubling down on child welfare reforms. Now state lawmakers are poised to pass a suite of bills to bolster that effort.

Three child care bills are moving in the House. One would tighten requirements for child care workers. 

 

  In a state legislative session preoccupied with gambling, guns, booze and tax cuts, the Children's Movement of Florida is pushing a cause that gets little attention: health care and early education for children from poor families.

It may not draw high-powered lobbyists to the Capitol rotunda, but Vance Aloupis, director of the group, said it's about the future.

"Way too often these issues that are truly foundational to the future of our state are going unnoticed," he said. "Every year we drag our feet, a child gets a year older."

Plan Boosts Child-Protection Reforms

Mar 25, 2015
Florida House of Representatives

A House panel Tuesday approved a proposal aimed at tightening the sweeping reforms that lawmakers placed into Florida's child-welfare system last year.

The House Children, Families and Seniors Subcommittee unanimously approved a bill (PCB FCSS 15-02) that would tweak the new law, which passed after a series of child deaths due to abuse and neglect.

Pasco County Sheriff's Office

Child welfare officials have previously investigated a man who killed his mother and 9-year-old niece.

A SWAT team took 23-year-old Jason Rios into custody Thursday after a three-hour standoff at an unoccupied neighboring house. Rios, who suffers from mental illness, also injured another girl in the attack at their New Port Richey home.

Child protective officials had conducted previous investigations regarding the children but said there were no open investigations at the time of the attack. The last investigation was closed over six months ago.

Florida Legislative committees next week will discuss bills to allow firearms on college campuses, and hear an update on how new child welfare reforms are being implemented, the News Service of Florida reports. The gun bill is similar to one that failed to pass in 2011.

Child-welfare advocates say Florida is plagued with high turnover rates among adoption and foster care case managers, the News Service of Florida reports. In some parts of the state, the turnover rate is as high as 80 percent, and averages 37 percent statewide. As the News Service reports, research on how to retain employees was presented at the recent Child Protection Summit in Orlando.

A child welfare caseworker, two psychologists who failed to report suspected child abuse, and the cousin in charge of caring for a severely disabled preteen have been charged by a Broward County grand jury in her starvation death, the Miami Herald reports. The body of 12-year-old Tamiyah Audain was found emaciated and covered in bedsores in the home of her caregiver last year, as reported by the Herald in its series Innocents Lost. 

DCF Targeting Child Welfare Overflow

Aug 11, 2014

The Florida Department of Children and Families is working with the agency that oversees child welfare in Miami to resolve issues that have included an overflow of kids in the foster-care system.

The department is collaborating with Our Kids, the lead community-based care agency for Miami-Dade and Monroe counties, after a surge in the number of children coming into state care, DCF Interim Secretary Mike Carroll said.

The chair of the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee wants all child deaths - not just suspicious ones - to be reported in Florida, the News Service of Florida reports. As of July 1, under legislation pushed by State Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, the state Department of Children and Families has to produce a report that includes deaths of children in cases where abuse has been documented. But Sobel says it’s not enough: cases of neglect could still be slipping through the cracks. As Margie Menzel with News Service reports, Sobel will introduce a bill next session requiring all deaths of children to be reported.

DCF

After an embarrassing article appeared in The Miami Herald in September, a regional supervisor for the Department of Children and Families ordered workers not to file required incident reports on the deaths of children who were supposed to be safeguarded by DCF, the Herald reports.

Over the next few days, Gov. Rick Scott will examine the state’s $77 billion budget and decide, what if anything to veto. Among the health items in the budget is an increase in the personal spending allowance for long-term care Medicaid patients from $35 to $105 a month, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports. Advocates say the increase is 25 years overdue.

Also awaiting Scott’s signature:

The Florida Senate rejected a last-minute amendment supported by Gov. Rick Scott’s administration that would have severely weakened a bill meant to overhaul child welfare laws,  the Miami Herald reports.
 

Higher speed limits, medical marijuana, and child abuse are among the issues in the news today as the Legislature hits its end-of-session frenzy.

Here’s a look at the progress of several health-related bills:

The Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee voted to combine three child welfare bills into one (SB 1666) on Wednesday, the News Service of Florida reports. In the wake of reports of children who have died after the Florida Department of Children and Families made contact with them, lawmakers are proposing several changes at the agency. It is unclear how much additional funding lawmakers will ask for; Gov.

According to newly released video footage of a foster-care hearing in December, the Department of Children and Families urged a judge to reunite a mother with her children, one of whom was found dead two months later, the Orlando Sentinel reports. 

Another in the “Innocents Lost” series by The Miami Herald, which began last weekend, tells the story of a 5-year-old girl who died despite warnings to the Department of Children and Families. The reporting team found 477 children in Florida died over six years after their families were warned of danger.

'Herald' Series Leads to $$ Talk

Mar 19, 2014
Florida Legislature

A Miami Herald investigation that found 477 children died over six years even though their families had been reported for abuse and neglect is beginning to have an impact in Tallahassee.

On Tuesday, as The Miami Herald published the final parts of its series, legislative leaders were talking about attacking the problem with money.

Nearly 10 years ago, the Florida Department of Children and Families decided that the preservation of families was of utmost importance, even in cases of child abuse or neglect. DCF decided it could  drastically  reduce the number of children taken into protective custody.

Thus, many children who at one time would have been placed in foster care or a group home were instead left with parents who abused or neglected them or were mentally ill or addicted to drugs -- problems of which DCF was aware.

Part of the plan to reform Florida’s child-welfare system would update the financial and accountability rules  for the organizations that provide adoption, foster care and case-management services, the

Emily Michot / Tampa Bay Times

After the Miami Herald reported that 20 children have died this summer, even though they had been in contact with Department of Children & Families, state Sen. Eleanor Sobel called a town hall meeting. Hundreds of children’s advocates, judges, police officers, health professionals -- and 15 lawmakers -- packed the auditorium in South Broward where it was held. Sobel kicked off the meeting by reading the names or initials of the children who died.

When Catalina Bruno was charged with child neglect and driving under the influence, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) assigned Shani Smith to investigate whether Bruno was fit to care for her children. Smith was supposed to get an expert’s review on whether Bruno could be a safe caregiver.