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State Tries New Plan to Prevent Killings

Starting this week, the Department of Children and Families will assign child-protection workers to children under age 3 in families with certain risk factors, such as domestic violence, News Service of Florida reports.

DCF Interim Secretary Esther Jacobo said the agency is expanding a successful pilot program statewide in hopes of stemming the number of children killed by a household member.

She made the announcement during a hearing Tuesday by the House Healthy Families Subcommittee, where the mood was grim because of the death toll. Florida State University social work professor Pam Graham said  432 children died in 2012 from abuse or neglect, and of these, 40 percent of them had already come to DCF's attention.


Sen. Eleanor Sobel, chairwoman of the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee, said reform is necessary but it should be done step by step, according to NSF.

Legislators reviewed a rule that would require new child-protective investigators to have social-work degrees, and would also help current investigators obtain them.


DCF staff reported that case-load pressure, difficulty getting law enforcement to meet them at violent homes, and a crushing load of time-consuming administrative tasks have made it hard for investigators and case workers to do their jobs.

The turnover rate for child-protective investigators in Florida is currently 20 percent, according to a legislative research agency.

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.