DCF

A 9-year-old boy who was almost stabbed to death by his own father is suing the Florida Department of Children and Families for not doing enough to protect him and his brother, who died after the brutal attack, the Miami Herald reports (Editor’s note: readers may encounter paywall).

Emily Michot / Tampa Bay Times

After the Miami Herald reported that 20 children have died this summer, even though they had been in contact with Department of Children & Families, state Sen. Eleanor Sobel called a town hall meeting. Hundreds of children’s advocates, judges, police officers, health professionals -- and 15 lawmakers -- packed the auditorium in South Broward where it was held. Sobel kicked off the meeting by reading the names or initials of the children who died.

Family photo

Twenty children who had come into contact with the Department of Children and Families have died since April 11 -- four times as many as had previously been named, the Miami Herald reports. One was Jewel Re’nee Howard, a 3-year-old who had told her father of abuse inflicted by her mother’s boyfriend, who had a history of arrests and charges. DCF failed to act, which cost Jewel her life. 

David Wilkins resigned Thursday as secretary of the Department of Children and Families as DCF reeled from the deaths of four children in six weeks and near-fatal injury of another.

All of the children were in families that children's services agents had checked out but had not foreseen the danger. Miami New Times describes those cases and what went wrong.

Melissa Lyttle / Tampa Bay Times

When Biannela Susana first gave birth, she was a child herself; by the time she was 25 she had four children. Now she has none, and is in Duval County jail awaiting sentencing for manslaughter in the death of her 2-year-old son -- even though she wasn’t the one who killed him. The Tampa Bay Times reports the story of an unfolding tragedy. 

After the unnecessary deaths of four Florida children under supervision of the Department of Children and Families, the agency has begun training 5,000 caseworkers across the state on how to assess a child’s safety, the Associated Press reports. 

A Cape Coral toddler is dead, two weeks after a child-services contractor returned him to his mother and her boyfriend, and the Department of Children & Families is investigating. As the Miami Herald reports, the case is the third in recent weeks in which a child has died after intervention by investigators. (Editor’s note: Readers may encounter a paywall to read this article.)

Two recent child deaths may be linked to mental illness and substance abuse that child protection agencies overlooked.

In one case, a 23-year-old South Florida woman has been sent for psychiatric evaluation after her arrest on suspicion of suffocating her young son. The woman had had contact with police in the past when she had episodes of what appeared to be a serious mental illness, the Miami Herald reports.

When Catalina Bruno was charged with child neglect and driving under the influence, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) assigned Shani Smith to investigate whether Bruno was fit to care for her children. Smith was supposed to get an expert’s review on whether Bruno could be a safe caregiver. 

The Department of Children and Families says the Legislature needs to close loopholes in the law that allow financially stable nursing home patients to hide their assets and get Medicaid to foot the bill for their care, the Associated Press reports.  The state found more than 500 cases totaling $29 million in a six-year review.

The Florida Department of Children and Families is using Facebook to broaden its reach on child abuse prevention, the Orlando Sentinel reports. The thinking is that young parents -- those who use social  media a lot -- are the prime target for the message.

A naked man who apparently climbed over a high fence at a house in Miami was discovered choking the pet Rottweiler, then bit the dog’s owner, who shot him in the foot, the Miami Herald reports.

Despite the gunshot wound, 20-year-old Jeffery Delice kept attacking, according to the Herald, and tried to bite officers who responded to the scene.

State officials visited the Miami area nursing home, which houses severely disabled children; some have already been moved out.

In an effort to keep diasbled foster children out of nursing home, DCF says it's looking for more medical foster homes.

Judges aren't supposed to use the prestige of their office to help private interests, but four did so when the former Dept. of Children and Families secretary sought a $44.8 million behavioral-health contract.

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