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Abuse, Death Despite DCF Involvement

This weekend, investigators continued to unravel multiple cases of child abuse as questions about child welfare loom across the state.

In St. Petersburg, a woman with a history of mental illness is accused of stabbing her 4-year-old son to death at his custodial grandmother’s home , the Tampa Bay Times reports. Though at one point DCF was involved, a spokesman told the Times all contact with the mother and child stopped in December 2011 after the mother lost custody of the children. She was granted supervised visits if  the children’s grandmother was present.

In Tampa, eight children - from age 2 to 16 - were seriously abused and neglected by their mother and stepfather over the course of eight years, despite an investigation by the Florida Department of Children and Families, the Times reports. The children were fed spoiled food, choked to unconsciousness, and the oldest boys were forced to stand naked for hours as punishment, authorities said. A spokeswoman for DCF told the Times even though the family was previously investigated, the agency had no further involvement with them and no case plan was in place.

In Orlando, police arrested a mother of five last week and charged her with child neglect after finding the family’s home riddled with piles of garbage, feces on the walls, and broken plumbing, the Orlando Sentinel reports. DCF officials confirmed the agency was called to investigate the family a few years ago and once again this February. A spokeswoman for DCF told the Sentinel the agency wanted to give the mother another chance to fix the problem before removing the children.

And in Hialeah, a woman who ran a family daycare was charged on Friday with aggravated manslaughter and child negligence after a 3-year-old boy drowned in the daycare’s pool in December. According to the Miami Herald, on three separate occasions the daycare was certified as safe by DCF, even though at the time of the drowning, the boy was able to squeeze through the bars of the door leading to the pool.

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.