Department of Children & Families

Pasco County residents may soon find it more difficult to get help filing applications for Medicaid, food stamps, temporary cash assistance and more.

A sign in the entrance to the Port Richey Florida Department of Children and Families Access office confirms it's permanently closing on Friday, July 26.

DeSantis Names Secretaries Of Corrections, DCF

Jan 4, 2019

Filling top jobs at two of the most-scrutinized agencies in state government, incoming Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday appointed new secretaries of the Florida Department of Corrections and the Florida Department of Children and Families.

DeSantis named Mark Inch, a retired U.S. Army major general who also worked as director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, to serve as secretary of the Department of Corrections.

25 children have died after being left in a hot car so far this year. Two of those death occurred in Florida. The Florida Department of Children and Families is trying to combat this issue.

Florida Office of the Governor

The Florida Department of Children and Families will seek approval from lawmakers to shift $3.1 million to help fill a gap in funding for homeless-prevention services, Gov. Rick Scott’s office said Monday. 

DCF Faces Costs In Food Program For Irma Victims

Nov 9, 2017

Department of Children and Families Secretary Mike Carroll told a Senate budget panel on Wednesday that administering a food-stamp program in 48 counties that were damaged by Hurricane Irma cost the state about $33 million as of October.

Florida’s child welfare officials are doing a review of their system and already looking ahead legislatively on the state and national level on what can be done to further help children within the system.

The case of a surviving abuse victim that led to the overhaul of Florida’s child welfare system may be close to reaching a resolution. While the claims bill to further compensate the victim has usually died in the past legislative sessions, it’s now headed to the Governor for final approval.

The Florida Senate unanimously passed a bill approving the remaining payment of $3.75 million to the surviving victim in a child abuse case. 

Ebyabe / Wikimedia

The staff and patients inside Florida's mental hospitals remain victims of preventable violence, according to a newspaper investigation.

The head of Florida’s child welfare agency says he’s still in the process of reforming the Florida Department of Children and Families and it’s going to take a lot of work. Florida lawmakers got that update in both the House and Senate this week.

Plan Boosts Child-Protection Reforms

Mar 25, 2015
Florida House of Representatives

A House panel Tuesday approved a proposal aimed at tightening the sweeping reforms that lawmakers placed into Florida's child-welfare system last year.

The House Children, Families and Seniors Subcommittee unanimously approved a bill (PCB FCSS 15-02) that would tweak the new law, which passed after a series of child deaths due to abuse and neglect.

The head of Florida’s child welfare agency is now on the path to getting confirmed by the full Senate, after initial approval from a Senate panel this week.

A man accused of throwing his daughter off a bridge has been found incompetent to stand trial in her death.

John Jonchuck appeared in court Tuesday. The case has been reset for a status check on Feb. 17.

If the court rules in line with the doctors' reports, Jonchuck would likely be sent to a hospital for six months before his case returns to court for another status check.

Jonchuck was arrested Jan. 8 after authorities said he dropped 5-year-old Phoebe more than 60 feet off a bridge.

He has a history of mental health issues.

Pasco County Sheriff's Office

Child welfare officials have previously investigated a man who killed his mother and 9-year-old niece.

A SWAT team took 23-year-old Jason Rios into custody Thursday after a three-hour standoff at an unoccupied neighboring house. Rios, who suffers from mental illness, also injured another girl in the attack at their New Port Richey home.

Child protective officials had conducted previous investigations regarding the children but said there were no open investigations at the time of the attack. The last investigation was closed over six months ago.

The two high profile death incidents that occurred in recent months has already spurred a number of changes to Florida’s child welfare agency. That was part of an update two panels in the House and Senate received Thursday as part of a presentation looking at a new law overhauling the agency.

Associated Press

 A father accused of throwing his 5-year-old daughter off of a bridge to her death last week was ordered Monday to undergo a mental health evaluation and was appointed a public defender.

John Jonchuck appeared to refuse to answer questions during the hearing in Pinellas County. When a judge asked Jonchuck at a first appearance hearing last week if he wanted a court-appointed attorney, Jonchuck said he wanted to "leave it in the hands of God."

Associated Press

Just 12 hours before police said John Jonchuck threw his 5-year-old daughter off a bridge - perhaps while she was still alive - the father calmly told a sheriff's deputy he didn't want to hurt himself or his little girl and had "new clarity in his life."

Department of Children and Families

Gov. Rick Scott has made Mike Carroll his permanent secretary of the Department of Children & Families.

Scott on Monday removed the "interim" from Carroll's title. He was initially appointed in April as DCF was struggling with intense media scrutiny over hundreds of child abuse-related deaths.

A nearly 25-year veteran of the department, Carroll most recently had been the regional managing director for an 11-county area encompassing southwest Florida and the Tampa Bay area.

In the months before a Volusia County man shot his three children, his wife's drinking seemed to be tearing the family apart.

According to documents released Tuesday by state child welfare officials, Cynthia Mohney was stumbling drunk at times, repeatedly slapped the children and they were increasingly afraid of her.

It was her disturbing behavior that brought child protective investigators to the home in June and recommended she seek substance abuse treatment. Two of the children even told investigators they felt safer with their father.

Associated Press

Republican Gov. Rick Scott repeatedly tells voters that abused and neglected children are safer under his leadership than when his Democratic opponent Charlie Crist was governor, but an Associated Press examination of that claim shows that campaign claim may be an exaggeration.

Department of Children and Families

Over an eight-year period, Florida's child welfare agency was repeatedly called with allegations that the six children of Sarah Spirit were being mistreated, abused or neglected.

At one point, several children told child protection investigators that they feared their grandfather, Don Spirit. Don Spirit was supervising the children when one child was burned on a space heater. He was outside with another child when that child fractured his arm. Don Spirit was also seen by one of the children when he beat his daughter while she was 36 weeks pregnant.

AP Photo/Gilchrist County Sheriff's Office

Two weeks before a Florida man fatally shot his daughter and six grandchildren, someone called the state child abuse hotline, worried that adults were doing drugs in front of the kids, according to documents released Monday.

Authorities said 51-year-old Donald Spirit called 911 from his mobile home Thursday warning he might hurt himself or others. By the time a deputy arrived, Spirit had committed suicide. And he had killed 28-year-old Sarah Spirit and her six children, including an infant girl born in June.

A Florida Keys child whose family had “a long history” with Florida’s Department of Children & Families was found dead in his parents’ home,  the Miami Herald reports. Carter James Turcanu’s April 24 death came within months of two reports to DCF that his mother was spending most of her money on drugs and leaving her children with no food, the Herald reports.

Hope Remains for Child-Welfare Reform

Apr 30, 2014

It’s still unclear what the final version of Florida’s child-welfare reform legislation will look like this year, as the session draws to a close.

Several provisions that concern transparency and accountability could still be in play – both for the Department of Children and Families and for the community-based care agencies that provide adoption and foster-care services at the local level.

On Friday, an amendment to the Senate’s reform bill would have stripped out language requiring more oversight of the child-welfare system.

A Miami judge is criticizing child welfare administrators who wanted to leave three children at a home where their cousin died days earlier, according to the Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau.

Following another year in which too many children died, lawmakers promised to make Florida a safer place for the state’s at-risk children.  However, according to the Miami Herald, the legislators' own pet home-town projects have taken precedence in the budget.

Many children’s advocates claim that legislative leaders have failed to back their promises with actions that will actually help the state’s abused and neglected children. 

Florida Legislature
Florida House of Representatives

A legislator who sponsored a bill to drug test Florida welfare recipients supports legalizing a strain of medical marijuana.  Rep. Jimmie Smith, R-Lecanto, wrote that he will support a measure to legalize “Charlotte’s Web,” an oil form of marijuana found to help treat children with severe seizures, the Bradenton Herald reports. 

Polk County Sheriff's Office

LAKELAND - Police say a Department of Children and Families investigator has been charged with sexual battery. 

According to the Lakeland Police Department, Jason Conrad Montgomery, 27, visited the home of a child he was assigned to on Sept. 5. While at the home, he allegedly asked the children in the house to leave and told their mother she "needed" to have sex with him.

Investigators say the woman resisted but felt helpless due to Montgomery's position with DCF. Police say Montgomery sexually battered her on that and another occasion several weeks later.

A severely disabled 12-year-old girl under state care has died from starvation or neglect.  When Tamiyah Audain’s mother died in December 2012, she was placed with a maternal cousin in Broward County, putting her under the care of ChildNet, according to the Miami Herald (paywall alert). 

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.