"Innocents Lost," a stunning Miami Herald series, recently described how 477 children died from abuse or neglect even though the Florida Department of Children and Families had already been warned they were in danger.
The response by Gov. Rick Scott and DCF interim Secretary Esther Jacobo has been disappointing, according to The Palm Beach Post. Neither plans to change DCF's priority, which has been keeping families intact rather than keeping children safe, the Post says.
In an op-ed in the Florida Times-Union and other state newspapers, Jacobo says federal and state laws require that children be kept with their families whenever it can be safely done. She says the agency welcomes the increased attention and scrutiny, because it will prod legislators to provide more money for the agency and for other services it relies on, such as mental-health treatment and drug rehabilitation.
"We stand firmly in the belief that the system is not broken. It is challenged," Jacobo writes. What DCF needs, in addition to money, is more citizen volunteers as foster parents and guardians ad litem, she said.
But the Post supports an effort by State Sen. Eleanor to rewrite state law to make the welfare of the child the first priority.