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Group Homes Come Under Legislative Scrutiny

Florida Legislature
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Lawmakers aren't happy about media reports of poor supervision at group homes for foster kids in South Florida.

Last month, the Miami New Times reported that teens at a number of Broward County group homes were involved in drugs, violence, prostitution and truancy.

Taxpayer money goes to the group homes, but not directly. Florida’s Department of Children and Families pays ChildNet, the community-based care lead agency for the area, which in turn pays the group homes.

State Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, who chairs the Senate committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs, wants more accountability from the subcontracting group homes.

"If we're giving the CBCs money, taxpayer dollars, and if we are responsible for these kids now, what are we doing? Why are we failing our kids?”

House Subcommittee on Children, Families and Seniors chair Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, said she'll be looking into the group homes in the upcoming legislative session.

"Our CBCs basically do a great job. We need to make sure that they are accountable, and that they hold their subcontractors accountable,” Harrell said. “I think we're going to be looking at that whole question this fall."

In a statement, ChildNet pointed to recent discussions between DCF and the group homes "to assess the current policies and collaborate on any changes or enhanced measures we need to be taking moving forward to protect all children in our care."