Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

'Paramours' One Threat to Kids

Florida’s Department of Children and Families knows well that parents aren't the only risk to abused and neglected children.

Of 477 children who died despite state oversight in the past six years, 65 were victims of their parent’s violent boyfriends and girlfriends, according to a year-long investigation by the Miami Herald. Some of these "paramours," as the law quaintly calls them, were never charged.

The Heraldseries, which reviewed child deaths in families that had been reported to DCF, also said the state failed to hold abusive and neglectful parents to their written promises of sobriety and safety: 83 children died despite a parent’s agreement to abide by a so-called safety plans, the Heraldreports.

The Herald's investigative package called "Innocents Lost" was published last weekend, and on Tuesday some legislators reacted, saying it emphasizes the need for ongoing reform of the state’s existing child protection laws. The proposed reforms so far total 115 pages, said House Healthy Families Subcommittee Chairwoman Gayle Harrell, R-Port St. Lucie.

Changes being considered include accountability measures for the safety plans and the creation of a website that will provide information about any deaths of children under DCF care, Harrell said.

“We are going to do everything in our power to stop children dying at the hand of an abuser,” she said.

Harrell said the plan will remain in her subcommittee for at least another week. She said she will consult other lawmakers, including the House Health Appropriations Chairman, Rep. Matt Hudson, R-Naples.

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.