Miami, FL – March 16, 2017 - The Washington Post- After a lifetime of foster homes and abuse, a 14-year-old broadcast her suicide on Facebook
Naika Venant was on Facebook Live for more than two hours before her suicide. Her viewers, some of them her friends, begged the 14-year-old to not go through with it.
Miami, FL – March 16, 2017 - The Miami Herald- Mom of Naika Venant: I thought hanging might have been stunt
It is the dead of night in a parked car somewhere in the city of Miami, and Naika Venant’s mother is awakened by a torrent of Facebook messages, indicating her daughter is committing suicide online.
Florence, AL – March 9, 2017 - The Times Daily- Foster parents charged
A Florida couple who were foster parents in Florence for seven years have been charged with hundreds of counts of child abuse, sexual abuse and other charges involving children they had adopted or were fostering.
Miami, FL – March 9, 2017 - The Miami Herald- DCF to judge: We didn’t lie; we made a mistake
Lawyers for the state’s shaky child welfare agency assured a Miami judge Wednesday that it was a “simple mistake,” rather than a deliberate lie, when they gave her incorrect information about a girl who might have witnessed the suicide of a foster sibling.
Tallahassee, FL – March 6, 2017 - Florida Politics- Range of DCF oversight issues, bills to be debated by Florida lawmakers this Session
As legislators in Tallahassee prepare themselves to convene their 60-day Session Tuesday, expect an assortment of proposed bills to be hashed out over the Department of Children and Families (DCF).
Loxahatchee, FL – March 4, 2017 - The Palm Beach Post- BREAKING: DCF probes death of infant found with blanket around neck
An 11-month-old boy has died more than a week after his caregiver found him whimpering in his crib with a blanket wrapped around his neck.
Miami, FL – March 2, 2017 - The Miami Herald- Weeks after foster teen’s suicide, child welfare groups spar over system’s dysfunction
Naika Venant, the 14-year-old foster child whose live-streamed suicide last month became a rallying cry among critics of social media, is taking on another role: poster child for the dysfunctions of Miami’s long-troubled child welfare system.
Miami, FL – March 1, 2017 - The Miami Herald- Facebook uses old tech and new to combat live-streamed suicide
A month after a Miami-Dade teen took her own life in front of a Facebook Live audience — one of at least three people to do so in recent months — the social media giant is introducing new tools and harnessing artificial intelligence in hopes of detecting cries for help in time to do something.
Tallahassee, FL – February 20, 2017 - WTXL- Insiders: Fostering Hope
Adoption can be a blessing to both the child and the parent. In December, we ran a series called Fostering Hope where we showed you nearly three dozen children who were hoping for adoption.
Tallahassee, FL – February 17, 2017 - The Sun-Sentinel- Foster families honored during appreciation week
Last year the Florida Senate passed a bill designating the second week of February as Foster Family Appreciation Week, encouraging the Department of Children and Families, local governments and other agencies to sponsor events to promote awareness of the contributions made by foster families to the state.
Miami, FL – February 7, 2017 - WLRN- DCF Seeks Answers After Teen’s Suicide
Department of Children and Families Secretary Mike Carroll told a Senate panel Monday that the agency is looking at why services were not effective in preventing the death last month of foster child Naika Venant, who hanged herself and broadcast it on social media.
Miami, FL – January 31, 2017 - The Miami Herald- Child welfare workers in Facebook Live hanging threatened with contempt
A Miami child welfare judge threatened to hold child welfare workers in contempt of court for failing to appear before her Tuesday morning to help explain “what went wrong” before a 14-year-old hanged herself while live-streaming the tragedy on Facebook.
Miami, FL – January 26, 2017 - The New York Daily News- Mother of 14-year-old girl who broadcast suicide on Facebook Live points finger at foster care
The mother of Naika Venant, the 14-year-old girl who took to a Facebook Live stream to broadcast her own suicide, is pointing the finger at Florida foster care after the tragedy.
Tampa, FL – January 20, 2017 - The Tampa Bay Times- Florida child welfare system under-performing for foster kids, study finds
A federal agency has given the Florida Department of Children and Families 90 days to come up with a plan to improve its care of foster kids after a study found the state is underperforming in critical areas.
Boynton Beach, FL – January 7, 2017 - CBS 12- New details in death of Boynton Beach baby
The Florida Department of Children and Families now says the 11-month-old that died on Christmas Eve had a cracked skull and a knot on his forehead.
Tallahassee, FL – December 27, 2016 - WTXL ABC 27- Fostering Hope: Aliyah
Everyday this month we here at WTXL are highlighting children in need of forever homes with the help of the Florida Department of Children and Families.
Tampa, FL – December 17, 2016 - WFTV 9- Investigation launched after infant dies in foster care
Florida detectives have launched a criminal investigation into the death of a 17-month-old boy in foster care who was about to be placed with adoptive parents.
Fort Lauderdale, FL – December 14, 2016 - Attorney at Law Magazine- Howard Talenfeld Honored as Child Advocate of the Year by The Heart Gallery of Broward County
Howard M. Talenfeld, a preeminent children’s rights attorney, was recognized by the Heart Gallery of Broward County as Child Advocate of the Year at the annual “Eat Your Heart Out” culinary feast.
Tallahassee, FL – November 15, 2016 - SaintPetersBlog- DCF receives $8 million grant to fund community-based projects targeting domestic violence and sexual assault
The Florida Department of Children and Families announced Monday it will receive $8 million in federal money to fund services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking in underserved communities.
Miami, FL – November 1, 2016 - The Miami Herald- Adopting children transforms lives
November is National Adoption Month. Children across the state of Florida are waiting for someone to become their heroes through foster care or adoption.
Palm Beach County, FL – October 19, 2016 - The Palm Beach Post- DCF records show baby’s death; parents face murder, abuse charges
Tayla Aleman was born weighing a healthy 9 pounds. She died a year and one month later weighing only 7, and bearing a diaper rash and a black eye.
Pembroke Pines, FL – October 13, 2016 - The Miami Herald- 17-year-old dies at Pembroke Pines drug treatment center
Police and state juvenile justice administrators are investigating the death of a 17-year-old boy at a Pembroke Pines drug treatment center for delinquent youths.
North Fort Myers, FL – October 10, 2016 - NBC 2- North Fort Myers parents jailed after filthy house discovered
A North Fort Myers couple was jailed and their kids taken into DCF custody after investigators found their home in a filthy state and the couple's son was found wandering near a busy street.
Miami, FL – September 29, 2016 - The Miami Herald- Judge finds autistic Miami man ‘incompetent’ to stand trial on child-porn charges
Tony Rodriguez, an autistic Miami man with an IQ of 73, is no longer a criminal defendant facing trial on charges of downloading child porn.
Zephyrhills, FL – September 26, 2016 - WTSP 10 News- DCF chief orders probe in death of Zephyrhills boy
Officials continue to investigate the suspicious death of 18-month-old who passed away inside his home early Saturday.
Merritt Island, FL – September 21, 2016 - WFTV- Deputies: 3 Merritt Island children neglected for years
Investigators said three Brevard County children were neglected for years.
Miami, FL – September 16, 2016 - The Miami Herald- Brother of girl discarded in dumpster told judge about mom’s rat-infested home
The June 12, 2015, hearing in Broward child welfare court was either a last chance to save 1-year-old Angela Dufrene before she vanished — or an opportunity to discover she was missing before more than a year would pass.
Palm Harbor, FL – September 11, 2016 - The Miami Herald- A dad accidentally leaves toddler in hot car. How will he be judged?
A loving father inadvertently leaves his toddler son in a pickup truck during a typically scorching Florida summer's day. The child dies.
Miami-Dade County, FL – September 3, 2016 - The Miami Herald- The machinations used to deny care to one disabled foster kid
No one at Florida’s disabilities agency disputes that S.J. is an unfortunate soul who needs help from the state just to survive.
Broward County, FL – August 31, 2016 - NBC 6 Miami- Broward Youth Soccer Coach Accused of Sexual Battery
A well-known Broward County soccer coach is facing multiple charges of sexual battery on a minor, authorities said.
Miami Gardens, FL – August 23, 2016 - The Miami Herald- Judge orders seven children found in house of filth to remain in foster care
Seven children, between the ages of 1 and 9 years old, are in protective custody after being found in a house of filth in Miami Gardens.
Miami, FL – August 20, 2016 - The Miami Herald- Confidential file on missing child reveals mom’s rage, DCF’s bungling
When Marjorie Dufrene’s hyperactive, developmentally disabled son refused to concentrate on his homework on Thanksgiving Day of 2011, she beat him with a belt so severely that he required surgery to restore vision to his left eye.
Pensacola, FL – August 17, 2016 - The Pensacola News Journal- When can an abused child go home?
A child who was removed from a Pensacola home after suffering a broken skull in April 2015 died not long after being reunified with his family in July 2016, according to Florida Department of Children and Families records.
Pensacola, FL – August 13, 2016 - The Pensacola News Journal- Mother of slain toddler no stranger to DCF
There were child-safety concerns at the home of a fatally-abused Pensacola toddler well before his death Monday, according to a report from the Florida Department of Children and Families.
Miami, FL – August 8, 2016 - The Miami Herald- Before child vanished — maybe forever — DCF made fateful decision
When Angela Dufrene and her twin brother were born on April 25, 2014, their mother’s troubled history was no secret to the state.
Tampa, FL – August 6, 2016 - The Tampa Bay Times- More kids pulled from homes in Hillsborough than anywhere else in Florida
The children are taken from their homes because parents fight or use drugs, or because of child abuse, neglect and mental illness. Others are given away by parents who admit defeat at handling teenagers.
North Port, FL – July 28, 2016 - NBC 2- DCF: 'Error' made in Baby Chance case
NBC2 has new information in the death of Chance Walsh, the nine-week-old North Port baby allegedly killed by his parents and then buried in a shallow grave last year.
Cape Coral, FL – July 19, 2016 - NBC 2- Cape couple charged with abuse of foster, adopted children
A 47-year-old Cape Coral man faces multiple charges in connection with alleged abuse of foster and adopted children at a SE 11th Place home.
Collier County, FL – July 14, 2016 - The Naples Daily News- CCSO: Kids found in 'severe state of neglect and filth'
Collier County deputies said they discovered four abandoned children in a “severe state of neglect and filth” in a Collier County home. Two of the children were handicapped and unable to walk, and one had severe developmental delays, according to a Collier County Sheriff's Office report.
Pasco County, FL – July 13, 2016 - The Tampa Bay Times- Pasco County teen, 16, arrested for sexual battery at in-home day care
A 16-year-old was arrested Tuesday on allegations that he sexually assaulted a 3-year-old girl at the in-home day care center run by his mother, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.
Gainesville, FL – June 28, 2016 - The Gainesville Sun- Children's Services board takes shape
County Commission leaders appointed members to its new Children's Services Advisory Board, a group that will suggest ways the county should spend $1.25 million on its youngest residents.
Broward County, FL – June 23, 2016 - The Miami Herald- After latest abuse case, Florida moves to close home for disabled
W.H., a disabled man who has difficulty communicating, had a laceration, bruises and abrasions on his right temple, bruises and abrasions on his right shoulder, and a red, scabby injury to his left arm.
Pensacola, FL – June 21, 2016 - The Pensacola News Journal- Investigation prompts resignations at Pensacola DCF
There has been a shakeup at the local office of the state Department of Children and Families after an investigation found, among other things, that some child protective investigators were working an "excessive" caseload without the proper certification.
Miramar, FL – June 10, 2016 - Local 10 News- Woman accused of smothering children with bed sheet in Miramar home jailed without bond
A woman accused of smothering her two children inside a Miramar home this week was ordered to remain in jail without bond.
Tampa, FL – June 10, 2016 - WFLA News Channel 8- Children taken from homes because of abuse now sleeping in office buildings
Can you imagine sleeping in a conference room in an office building, night after night? It’s happening in Hillsborough County to children who’ve been taken from their homes by investigators.
Tallahassee, FL – June 6, 2016 - The Tallahassee Democrat- Former foster children recall hardships
Dealing with the mental stressors of a home in turmoil were not easy to overcome growing up.
Boston, MA – June 3, 2016 - WFXT Fox 25- Child welfare bosses now tracking why kids are in foster care
More than 9,000 Massachusetts children are in foster care, but FOX25 Investigates has learned the state didn’t track why those kids are in state custody until recently.
Miami, FL – May 23, 2016 - The Miami Herald- Family’s house filled with feces and roaches, and even cops were horrified
Talk about a house of horrors: thousands of roaches, urine-soaked floors, piles of human feces, mounds of trash.
Tallahassee, FL – May 11, 2016 - The Tallahassee Democrat- DCF twice investigated 10-month-old before he was killed
State officials investigated two incidents at the home of a 10-month-old boy who died after suffering a broken spinal cord and severed aorta last week.
Tallahassee, FL – May 3, 2016 - The LakeLand Ledger - State examines services for foster kids in trouble with law
Thousands of youths in Florida's child-welfare system have gotten in trouble with the law — and when they do, their caregivers often refuse to take them back.
Daytona Beach, FL – April 10, 2016 - The Daytona Beach News Journal - 60 foster-care families needed: Number of kids has nearly doubled since 2014
Tina Ward is accustomed to carrying a toddler on each hip.
Tallahassee, FL – April 7, 2016 - The Daily Business Review - Florida Reaches Settlement Agreement in Kids' Medicaid Case
Florida health officials have reached a settlement ending a decades long class-action lawsuit that alleged the state is violating federal mandates by failing to deliver critical health services to 2 million children on Medicaid.
New York, NY – March 30, 2016 - The New York Daily News - EXCLUSIVE: Agency responsible for placing foster children with accused perv previously sent kid to foster parent that tortured them
The nonprofit agency that repeatedly sent kids to accused perv Cesar Gonzales-Mugaburu was previously forced to pay about $17 million to foster children caged, beaten and tortured by another sick foster parent.
Jacksonville, FL – March 18, 2016 - First Coast News - Mother accused of leaving children home alone
A Jacksonville mother faces a charge of child neglect after she allegedly left two children home alone for seven hours.
Columbus, OH – March 2, 2016 - Capital University Law Review - Ministerial versus Discretionary Acts or Omissions in Child Welfare Litigation
Capital University Law Review, 44(1), 103-125.
Bradenton, FL – February 25, 2016 - The Bradenton Herald- Child abuse, deaths in Manatee County alarming
Four. Not a big number, but big when it comes to children. Four deaths last year from child abuse. Four. The dreadful year set a record as the worst in 15 years.
Fort Pierce, FL – February 22, 2016 - WPBF News 25- Child found living in deplorable conditions, police say
A Fort Pierce resident has been arrested for child neglect without great bodily harm after officials found a child living in a home they described as “deplorable and cluttered.”
West Palm Beach, FL – February 15, 2016 - CBS 12- CBS12 Investigates: Convicts working in daycare centers
Ask any parent and they will tell you it is crucial they know exactly who is watching their children.
Bradenton, FL – February 8, 2016 - WTSP News 10- Manatee investigators criticized in girl's death
Who failed Janiya Thomas? An 11-year-old girl allegedly murdered by her mother and then shoved into a freezer like raw meat has had 10News WTSP asking questions for months.
West Palm Beach, FL – February 2, 2016 - The Palm Beach Post- POINT OF VIEW: State must come together to combat human trafficking
A child forced against their will, a woman unpaid with unusually long hours, or a young man recruited for a job under false pretenses.
Miami, FL – January 27, 2016 - NBC 6 South Florida- Former DCF Employee Accepts Plea Deal in Falsifying Records Case
A Department of Children and Families employee, charged in connection with the death of a baby left in a hot car, faced a judge Wednesday.
Fort Myers, FL – January 22, 2016 - The Fort Myers News Press- DCF to investigate shooting involving Fort Myers child
The Florida Department of Children and Families confirmed that it has opened an investigation in the shooting of 6-year-old Malcolm Wilcox at a Fort Myers apartment complex Monday night.
Miami, FL – January 11, 2016 - The Miami Herald- Miami foster group home under scrutiny for video of kids fighting
A Miami group home for foster children is under fire after a video circulated on social media showing two 11-year-old boys in a violent brawl — egged on by the facility’s adult supervisor as other kids cheered.
St. Petersburg, FL – January 6, 2016 - The St. Petersburg Tribune- 5-year-old thrown from bridge one year ago brought about changes
One year ago this week, 5-year-old Phoebe Jonchuck’s father dropped her into chilly Tampa Bay from a bridge along the Sunshine Skyway causeway, police say.
Topeka, KAN.– December 25, 2015 - WRAL- Kansas lawmaker seeks end of privatized foster care system
A Republican Kansas lawmaker is calling for an end to the state's first-in-the-nation privatized foster care system, as it nears its 20th anniversary with increasing scrutiny and a record number of children in foster homes.
West Palm Beach, FL – December 23, 2015 - The Palm Beach Post- Unusual lawsuit lets sexually-abused girl sue insurance company
Three years after a now-defunct social service agency agreed to pay a West Palm Beach girl $2 million to help her overcome years of sexual abuse, her attorneys are suing an insurance company, claiming it prevented the girl from getting the money the agency says she deserved.
Lee County, FL – December 21, 2015 - Fox 4- DCF working to fix issues with abuse hotline
Four in Your Corner is investigating a potentially troubling trend in the Department of Children and Families abuse hotline.
Manatee County, FL – December 16, 2015 - The Miami Herald- Florida DCF to review death of 15-month-old boy in Manatee
The Florida Department of Children and Families will not deploy a Critical Incident Rapid Response Team to conduct a review in the death of 15-month-old Knowellan Kelly, but will still review of the case.
Tallahassee, FL – December 8, 2015 - The Ocala Star Banner- DCF names new regional director
The Florida Department of Children and Families Tuesday named Patricia Medlock, a 17-year child welfare and private sector veteran, regional managing director for the department’s Northeast region.
Tallahassee, FL – December 6, 2015 - The Ledger- Dunkelberger: DCF chief says tragedies must be seen in context
Mike Carroll, the state agency head who oversees Florida child welfare services, says the Department of Children and Families is making progress in protecting some of the state's most vulnerable residents in the wake of tragic deaths of two Southwest Florida children.
Tallahassee, FL – December 3, 2015 - News 13- DCF department head stands before committee, asks to keep his job
The head of Florida's Department of Children and Families pressed lawmakers to keep him on the job Thursday, despite a string of child deaths preceded by warning signs that were missed by the agency.
Manatee County, FL – December 1, 2015 - The Bradenton Herald- Department of Children and Families report exposes more flaws in Florida's child-protection system in wake of Janiya's death
Some of the fault lines in Florida's child welfare system cracked open last week with the release of a highly critical report from the state Department of Children and Families about the many failures in a Manatee County case.
Manatee County, FL – November 24, 2015 - WTSP News 10- DCF report details failures in Janiya Thomas' death
The state Department of Children & Families has released damning documents detailing action by child protection investigators surrounding the death of 11-year-old Janiya Thomas.
San Francisco, CA – November 20, 2015 - Youth Law Center- YLC Releases Survey/Recommendations On Congregate Care
At the Youth Law Center we are continuing our work to ensure that children and youth who must be removed from home are placed in family settings rather than in congregate care facilities.
Orlando, FL – November 15, 2015 - The Ledger- Former foster kid adopted at age 26 by Florida family
After being shuffled to 16 foster and group homes, 26-year-old Tyrone Burns Smith has finally been adopted by the family he came to live with more than a decade ago.
Polk County, FL – November 12, 2015 - WTSP 10 News- DCF met with girl one day before her murder
New questions are being asked after just-released documents show that a 6-year-old girl was visited by a Department of Children and Families investigator one day before her murder.
Manatee, FL – November 7, 2015 - The Bradenton Herald- Scant emails detail two 2014 investigations of Janiya Thomas' mother
While Keishanna Thomas had an extensive history since 2000 with the Manatee County Sheriff's Office Child Protective Investigative Division, there were few emails on record concerning Thomas or her daughter Janiya before Sept. 23 among sheriff's investigators and case workers.
Tallahassee, FL – November 5, 2015 - WUSF- Florida Matters: DCF Secretary Says Child Fatalities Are Public Health Issue
Florida is on pace to have nearly as many child deaths this year as it did before the overhaul of its child welfare system last year. In about a quarter of those deaths, the Florida Department of Children and Families had prior contact with the family.
Bradenton, FL – November 3, 2015 - The Bradenton Herald- Bradenton case manager said risk to Keishanna Thomas' children was 'intermediate,' recommended closing case anyway
A Safe Children's Coalition case manager thought there was an "intermediate" risk to Keishanna Thomas's children, but recommended the case be closed due to non-compliance anyway in June 2014, reports released Monday by the Department of Children and Families show.
Manatee County, FL – October 29, 2015 - The Bradenton Herald- Florida Secretary of DCF Mike Carroll says systemic issues led to Janiya Thomas's death
Secretary of the Department of Children and Families Mike Carroll said "systemic issues" led to the death of Janiya Thomas and the department must learn from it.
Tallahassee, FL – October 27, 2015 - WWSB ABC 7- Senate bill would overhaul foster-care placements
A bill aimed at reducing instability for foster children has started to move forward in the Florida Senate and would require the child-welfare system to match kids with their best placement options --- rather than, as critics charge, the first beds that are handy.
Miami, FL – October 27, 2015 - The Palm Beach Post- Mom of girl found dead accused of abusing 5 kids for years
The mother of a girl found dead in a freezer was accused of beating her five children for years in a home that at times was filled with rats and roaches, according to documents released Tuesday.
Manatee County, FL – October 22, 2015 - WTSP 10 News- DCF admits "system failures" in 2 deaths
The state admits "system failures " and partial blame in the cases of two Bay area children. One was left in a freezer, the other buried.
Manatee County, FL – October 21, 2015 - The Miami Herald- Florida child died after DCF bowed out
Keishanna Thomas’s name — and those of her five children — appeared again and again in reports to the state’s child abuse hotline. The calls began more than a decade ago. There were an even dozen.
Bradenton, FL – October 20, 2015 - The Miami Herald- Siblings of missing Bradenton girl tell police: We haven’t seen her in more than a year
Janiya Thomas’ siblings told investigators it had been more than a year since they last saw their sister, who was often locked in a bathroom for up to a week and how their mother Keishanna Thomas would beat or punch her.
Manatee County, FL – October 19, 2015 - The Miami Herald- Body found in freezer may be missing 11-year-old Florida girl
The body of a child believed to be missing 11-year-old Janiya Thomas was found in a freezer in a Manatee County home Sunday, Bradenton police said.
North Port, FL – October 17, 2015 - WTSP News 10- DCF reviews Baby Chance case
Mike Carroll, secretary for the Florida Department of Children and Families, said Friday that an internal review of DCF’s interactions with baby Chance Walsh’s parents — Kristen Bury, 32, and Joseph Walsh, 36 — has begun after a deceased infant’s remains were uncovered Thursday in North Port.
Fort Lauderdale, FL – October 16, 2015 - The Sun-Sentinel- Lauderdale's effort to shut troublesome shelter delayed
A state-owned emergency shelter for teenage boys won a delay Thursday in the city's attempt to shut it down, with its representatives denying it's a major source of criminal activity.
Tallahassee, FL – October 12, 2015 - The Daily Business Review- DCF, Senators Eye Ways to Bolster Child Protection Program
The chief of the Florida Department of Children and Families told lawmakers his agency is making progress at carrying out reforms but still has a long way to go.
Tallahassee, FL – October 9, 2015 - The Miami Herald- DCF cites progress in protecting children, challenges in keeping staff
After an infusion of new money, new hires and new guidelines, the Department of Children and Families told legislators this week that it is making strides in handling abuse and neglect cases but it still faces steep obstacles.
Palm Beach County, FL – October 8, 2015 - The Palm Beach Post- PBSO: Man who worked at children’s home sent lewd photos to teen boy
A 46-year-old man described as a “father figure” texted sexually explicit photos of himself to a 16-year-old boy who lives in the group home he used to work at, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.
Fort Lauderdale, FL – October 7, 2015 - Viewpoints- Foster Care: How Can We Make the System Better For All?
When a child is placed in foster care, she’s already been through the traumatic experience of being removed from her family’s care, and now faces an uncertain future in a new home – sometimes worse than the one she left.
Tallahassee, FL – October 1, 2015 - The Florida Bar Foundation- Paul Doyle Children’s Advocacy Award goes to project that secured lawyers for dependent children with special needs
Florida’s Children First Executive Director Christina Spudeas, Deputy Director Robin Rosenberg, and board member Jesse Diner accepted the 2015 Paul C. Doyle Children’s Advocacy Award at The Florida Bar Foundation’s 39th Annual Reception and Dinner for the organization’s Counsel for Dependent Children with Special Needs Project.
Tallahassee, FL – September 22, 2015 - Orlando Weekly- Report finds Florida foster kids put on psychotropic drugs without following proper procedures
Despite an outcry in 2009 over a 7-year-old's apparent suicide, a draft report from the research arm of Florida's child-protection system shows that foster children are still being put on psychotropic medications without caregivers following proper procedures.
Fort Lauderdale, FL – September 16, 2015 - The Daily Business Review- 2015 Rising Stars: Leveraging Their Upbringing
Stacie Schmerling's career path took her to Talenfeld Law, the first Florida firm to focus exclusively on the rights of at-risk children.
Tallahassee, FL – September 12, 2015 - The St. Augustine Record- DCF secretary says boy's death shows 'deep-seated issues'
The state's child-welfare chief said the recent death of a 4-year-old Palatka boy, allegedly strangled by an older child in his home, points to the challenges posed by families in which addiction, sexual abuse and domestic violence create a perilous environment.
Tallahassee, FL – September 9, 2015 - WFOR CBS 4 Miami- Lawmakers To Look At Group Homes For Foster Kids
Lawmakers and the Florida Department of Children and Families are looking to increase accountability and improve standards at group homes for foster children.
Tallahassee, FL – September 6, 2015 - The St. Augustine Record- Departed DCF chief still troubled by Bell killings
The beginnings of David Abramowitz’s resignation from the Florida Department of Children and Families came nearly a year ago, when he learned that six children and their mother had been gunned down in the tiny Gilchrist County town of Bell.
Bay County, FL – August 29, 2015 - The Orlando Sentinel- Deputies: Mom charged for allegedly letting 4-year-old child's teeth rot
A Florida mom has been arrested after authorities say she repeatedly ignored a dentist's warning that her 4-year-old needed surgery on her rotting teeth.
Boynton Beach, FL – August 24, 2015 - The Palm Beach Post- DCF: 5-month-old’s death riddled with ‘conflicting stories’
The suspicious death of a Boynton Beach infant nearly a week ago is riddled with “conflicting stories,” according to a Department of Children and Families report released today.
Boynton Beach, FL – August 19, 2015 - The Palm Beach Post- Update: DCF investigating possible abuse of 5-month-old who died
Florida Department of Children and Families confirmed that an investigation was launched into the possible abuse of a 5-month-old Friday, spokeswoman Paige Patterson-Hughes said.
Delray Beach, FL – August 12, 2015 - The Sun-Sentinel- Deputy explains history, purpose of Baker Act
Speaking to a group of health care professionals at Arden Courts Alzheimer's Care Center in Delray Beach recently, Jeffrey B. Lefton, director of behavioral health services at Fair Oaks Pavilion at Delray Medical Center and a Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office deputy, presented the history and purpose of the Baker Act.
Miami, FL – August 6, 2015 - CBS 4- Couple Accused Of Scamming DCF Out Of Thousands
A former Department of Children & Families employee and her husband, accused of scamming the state out of thousands of dollars in financial aid, will go before a judge on Thursday.
Cooper City, FL – July 31, 2015 - WSVN 7- Community meeting held in wake of child sex abuse allegations
Cooper City hosted a community conversation Thursday night after allegations surfaced that a former youth baseball coach had molested two boys.
Palatka, FL – July 28, 2015 - Action News Jax TV- 11-year-old accused of strangling 4-year-old; reports show history of violence
Deputies said they found the 4-year-old boy unresponsive Monday morning inside a single-wide mobile home that the Department of Children and Families said eight adults and four children lived inside.
Cooper City, FL – July 24, 2015 - The Miami Herald- Youth baseball coach is accused — again — of molestation
A youth league baseball coach — who had been previously charged but never convicted of molesting children under his supervision — has been arrested again.
Tallahassee, FL – July 21, 2015 - WTXL TV- DCF to Host Concert to Help Recruit Foster Parents for Teens
The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) is partnering up with several local organizations to host a concert and foster parent recruitment event for teenagers in foster care.
Jacksonville, FL – July 15, 2015 - News 4 Jax- Counselor charged with sexual battery, possession of child pornography
A counselor who was employed by Family Support Services, which is contracted the Department of Children and Families is accused of molesting a 17-year-old boy he worked with.
Greenacres, FL – July 10, 2015 - The Sun-Sentinel- Greenacres murder-suicide suspect raised no red flags during family check in 2013
A woman believed to have shot and killed her daughter and grandchildren last month in a murder-suicide did not raise any red flags in 2013 when state authorities met with her while investigating the family.
Riviera Beach, FL – July 7, 2015 - The Sun-Sentinel- Woman accused of child abuse after children found with bruises, burns
When doctors examined the childrens' bodies, they saw burns, bruises and bites.
Sunrise, FL – July 6, 2015 - Miami Herald- ‘Voodoo Priest’ accused of having sex with girl, 11
A South Florida ‘Voodoo priest’ is accused of having sex with an 11-year-old girl and police are searching for more possible victims, reported Miami Herald news partner CBS4.
Sarasota, FL – July 1, 2015 - News 10- Police, DCF familiar with mother accused of stabbing girl
As a 6-year-old Sarasota girl fights for her life in the hospital, her mother is in jail charged with attempted murder. Some who know the family believe that the Department of Children and Families failed the young girl.
Panama City, FL – June 25, 2015 - Orlando Sentinel- 3 charged with felony child neglect in Florida Panhandle
Three people face felony child neglect charges after officials found seven children, five adults and three dogs living in a filthy house in Florida's Panhandle.
Tallahassee, FL – June 23, 2015 - News Channel 8- DCF says wait times for abuse hotline are decreasing
Florida’s Department of Children and Families says it is making progress in bringing down wait times for its abuse hotline.
Broward County, FL – June 16, 2015 - The Sun-Sentinel- Broward pastor, school official guilty in sex abuse case
Jurors took just 3 1/2 hours Tuesday to find Jeffery London, a church youth pastor, charter school disciplinarian and unofficial foster parent, guilty of a federal sex abuse charge.
Volusia County, FL – June 15, 2015 - WFTV- Three charged with stopping DCF from checking on young boy
Three people are accused of refusing to allow the Department of Children and Families to check on the well-being of a child in Volusia County.
Indianapolis, IN– June 2, 2015 - WTTV CBS 4- Local agencies urge families to seek parenting help following several child deaths
It’s been a difficult week for child welfare agencies after two children were killed allegedly at the hand of a parent.
Tallahassee, FL – May 26, 2015 - WTXL TV- Florida's Department of Children and Families Offers Up Summer Safety Tips
With kids getting out of school for the summer, it's time to start thinking about keeping your child safe for the next few months before they head back to school.
Broward County, FL – May 7, 2015 - The Broward New Times- Boy sues ChildNet, says foster parent abused him
A child who was allegedly sexually abused by a foster parent has filed a lawsuit against welfare providers Kids in Distress Inc. and ChildNet Inc. because the agencies did not conduct proper background checks on the parent before issuing a foster parenting license.
Broward County, FL – May 7, 2015 - The Sun-Sentinel- Boy sues foster dad and Broward child groups over alleged sex abuse
A 7-year-old boy was sexually abused by his foster father after two Broward County child welfare groups failed to conduct proper background checks on the man, according to allegations in a civil lawsuit filed this week.
Hollywood, FL – April 30, 2015 - WFOR CBS 4 Miami- DCF Review Finds Fault In Handling Hollywood Boy Abuse Claims
A review by the Department of Children and Families (DCF) of the handling of abuse reports prior to the death of Ahziya Osceola found faults with the investigations.
Hollywood, FL – April 29, 2015 - The Miami Herald- Report: Child abuse experts failed dead 3-year-old Hollywood boy
As the bumps, bruises, fingerprints, scratches and abrasions accumulated on Ahziya Osceola’s 30-pound body, the state workers whose job it was to protect him paid little heed, failing to identify and stanch “a pattern of repeat injuries” that ultimately led to the Broward County boy’s death, a report said Wednesday.
Orlando, FL – April 28, 2015 - WFLA News Channel 8- Florida abuse hotline data shows longer wait times
Average wait times to call the state's abuse hotline reached up to 20 minutes on some days during the past two months, according to data from the Department of Children and Families.
Tallahassee, FL – April 20, 2015 - CBS Miami- DCF Faulted For Oversight Of Privatized Agencies
Two reports presented to lawmakers last week criticized the Florida Department of Children and Families for poor oversight of the privatized agencies that deliver child-welfare, substance-abuse and mental-health services statewide.
Tallahassee, FL – April 14, 2015 - The Tallahassee Democrat- Sun shines on Children's Week
Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum read a book outside of the House Building on Tuesday while thousands of children, their parents and child advocates ate and took in some sunshine.
Tallahassee, FL – April 7, 2015 - ABC News- New Law Tells States to Seek 'Normalcy' for Foster Children
Not so long ago, if foster children in Florida wanted to spend the night at a friend's house, the parents hosting the sleepover faced a criminal background check.
Sarasota, FL – April 6, 2015 - WFLA- Sarasota couple charged with child neglect, 5 kids found in deplorable conditions
A Sarasota couple has been charged with child neglect after deputies found five children living in deplorable conditions.
Broward County, FL – March 26, 2015 - The Sun-Sentinel- Father, stepmother charged after boy's body found in box; dad bonds out of jail
The body of Ahziya Drew Osceola was found in the family's residence in the 5400 block of Johnson Street.
Broward County, FL – March 25, 2015 - The Miami Herald- Signs unheeded before Hollywood boy’s cruel death
The purple bruises on either side of Ahizya Osceola’s jaw were telltale signs: Someone, a child abuse expert said, had grabbed the 3-year-old’s face forcefully enough to leave fingerprints.
Broward County, FL – March 17, 2015 - Miami Herald- Misconduct found at privately run child-welfare agency
Workers at Broward County’s privately run child welfare agency spent so much time doing free work at the Miami-Dade home of their boss that they jokingly called it the “Coral Gables office.”
Tallahassee, FL – March 11, 2015 - WCTV- Fla. Department of Health Directs Additional Funding to Services for Florida's Children
Today the Florida Department of Health highlighted its commitment to serving families across the state through the structural enhancement of programs in the Division of Children’s Medical Services (CMS).
Gainesville, FL – March 4, 2015 - The Gainesville Sun- Advocate for children
As an attorney, Gloria Fletcher was a staunch client advocate. As a champion for the children, she was a zealous child advocate.
Maryland/Texas – March 4, 2015 - BuzzFeed- Board Members Of Troubled Foster-Care Company Have Little To Say About Abuses
A recent BuzzFeed News investigation into the nation’s largest for-profit foster care company revealed deaths, sex abuse, and serious lapses in the training and oversight of foster parents.
Tallahassee, FL – March 3, 2015 - WCTV- Bill Seeks Money for Sexual Abuse Victim
A 21-year-old man who was sexually abused as a child is one step closer to receiving 5 million dollars from the Florida Department of Children and Families. The Senate Judiciary Committee today unanimously approved that claims bill.
West Palm Beach, FL – February 23, 2015 - The Palm Beach Post- Commentary: DCF’s Orwellian response to child thrown from bridge
It’s not every day that a divorce lawyer reports her own client to the state’s child abuse hotline.
Tallahassee, FL – February 18, 2015 - The Tampa Bay Times- Senate President Andy Gardiner wants review of services after Phoebe Jonchuck's death
Senate President Andy Gardiner wants the state to focus more on mental-health issues after the child-welfare system was stunned by the death of a 5-year-old Phoebe Jonchuck whose father is accused of dropping her into Tampa Bay.
Tampa, FL – February 9, 2015 - The Tampa Bay Times- DCF acknowledges failures in its handling of Phoebe Jonchuck case
Florida's child welfare agency acknowledged Monday that it failed to protect a 5-year-old girl before she was dropped to her death last month, missing opportunities to respond to concerns for her well-being.
Tallahassee, FL – February 5, 2015 - News4Jax- Florida lawmakers question training, supervision at DCF
Lawmakers are questioning training and supervision at the state's child abuse hotline after the Florida Department of Children and Families acknowledged that it missed at least two opportunities to save a 5-year-old girl who was thrown off a bridge by her troubled father.
Tallahassee, FL – February 4, 2015 - The Tampa Bay Times- Child welfare officials on defensive over child death 'transparency'
Florida’s top child welfare officials were on the defensive before a House committee on Wednesday as they defended an annual report on child deaths that had been stripped of data and embarrassing details about the state’s role in failing to protect the children whose lives were lost.
Tallahassee, FL – January 22, 2015 - The Tampa Tribune- Lawmakers grill DCF chief on Jonchuck death
In the wake of a death of 5-year-old Phoebe Jonchuck this month, lawmakers Thursday heard from the secretary of the Florida Department of Children & Families about how the case might affect efforts to reform the state’s troubled child-welfare system.
Tallahassee, FL – January 16, 2015 - WFSU- After Most Recent Child Death, Bipartisan Duo To Look Into Tweaks To DCF Law
As the Florida Legislature returns next week, a bipartisan duo of lawmakers could be looking at making some more changes on top of a new law overhauling Florida’s child welfare agency.
Tallahassee, FL – January 13, 2015 - News4Jax- DCF: No quick fix to child safety issues
Florida’s Department of Children and Families says there will be no quick fix in ensuring child safety. The fallout from the deaths of a child and teenager in the past week is prompting change in the agency.
Miami, FL – December 31, 2014 - The Miami Herald- Florida illegally deprived needy kids of healthcare, judge rules
A federal judge Wednesday declared Florida’s healthcare system for needy and disabled children to be in violation of several federal laws, handing a stunning victory to doctors and children’s advocates who have fought for almost a decade to force the state to pay pediatricians enough money to ensure impoverished children can receive adequate care.
Jacksonville, FL – December 29, 2014 - The Florida Times Union- Jacksonville mother of child abandoned in vehicle charged with neglect
Jacksonville police have filed a child-neglect charge against a woman accused of abandoning a baby girl, whom she later identified as her daughter, in a stranger’s vehicle Saturday.
Miami, FL – December 20, 2014 - The Miami Herald- Transparency Lost: Little disclosure on child deaths
In December 2009, the state panel that reviews child abuse deaths released a 179-page report. The document included a detailed analysis of what killed Florida children the year before, dozens of charts and graphs describing both the victims and perpetrators of child abuse, and brief memorials for several of the youngsters whose lives were cut short.
Lake Mary, FL – December 18, 2014 - My Fox Orlando- Report: Fla tops national list of child abuse, neglect cases
Florida is at the top of the list in terms of the number of child abuse and neglect cases across the country that proved fatal according to a recently released Associated Press investigation.
Tallahassee, FL – December 14, 2014 - The Miami Herald- State puts on hold settlement payment to Nubia Barahona’s brother
When the state of Florida quietly agreed to pay $5 million to settle a lawsuit over the gruesome death of 10-year-old Nubia Barahona and the torture of her twin brother, Victor, it all but admitted it was at fault.
Port Orange, FL – December 4, 2014 - Daytona Beach News-Journal- Children in peril deserve better
When the Florida Department of Children and Families responded to reports of three children in potential danger at a Port Orange home in June, an investigation detailed complaints that the mother drank excessively and sometimes struck the children.
Tallahassee, FL – December 2, 2014 - WUSF News- Scott Urged To Make Interim Secretaries Permanent at DCF, DJJ
As he gets ready to start a second term, Gov. Rick Scott will have to choose leaders for the Florida Department of Children and Families and the Department of Juvenile Justice. Both agencies are operating under interim secretaries, and Scott's choice at the Department of Children and Families will be particularly scrutinized.
Jacksonville, FL – November 26, 2014 - News4Jax- Child welfare system looks to institute to help 'steer a course'
After months of reports about problems in Florida's child-welfare system, lawmakers this year approved a sweeping reform bill that included establishing an institute to guide state leaders, in part, by evaluating the success of their policies.
Jacksonville, FL – November 18, 2014 - News4Jax- Florida Children's cabinet sets new course
Members of the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet on Tuesday said they wanted to re-establish the cabinet as a "bully pulpit" for children, with better coordination among the state agencies that serve kids and more political backing from Gov. Rick Scott.
Jacksonville, FL – November 13, 2014 - News4Jax- Doctors concerned over child abuse deaths
Doctors and nurses at Wolfson Children's Hospital said they're extremely concerned after dealing with several cases of children dying because of abuse.
Milam County, TX – November 6, 2014 - The Houston Press- Texas Girl Was Taken Away From Parents Because They Smoked Pot, Only to Be Killed in Foster Care
Little Alex Hill would have been turning four-years-old this Friday. But rather than celebrating their child's birthday, the toddler's parents have only the bitter consolation of seeing a judge in Milam County hand Alex's foster mother a life sentence for murder.
Tallahassee, FL– November 2, 2014 - The Tallahassee Democrat- Know how election would affect kids
Florida’s child advocates who fight for the rights of at-risk children are not satisfied with where the Florida governor’s race has placed children’s issues on the list of talking points.
Broward County, FL– October 23, 2014 - The Miami Herald- As Broward child wasted away, protectors looked but didn’t see
For about nine months, foster care caseworkers and their bosses made 13 visits to the Lauderhill home of Tamiyah Audain, held 30-minute meetings, conferred with other social service workers and filed numerous reports, all of which documented the preteen was in good health. She was actually losing half her body weight and slowly filling with poisons.
Tallahassee, FL– October 22, 2014 - The Daily Business Review- Advocates Say Children's Issues Missing From Campaign
Florida children may not be able to vote for governor, but they still have a lot at stake in the race. And as the campaign hurtles to a close, advocates say they're frustrated that the future of the state's youngest residents hasn't played a larger role in the discussion.
Miami, FL– October 15, 2014 - The Tampa Tribune- Scott claim of fewer child abuse deaths questioned
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.
Port St. Lucie, FL– October 9, 2014 - WESH 2 Orlando- DCF didn't fully vet foster Florida dad charged with death
The Florida Department of Children and Families may not have fully vetted a Port St. Lucie foster parent charged with murdering a 2-year-old boy in his care.
Bell, FL– September 29, 2014 - ABC Action News- Sheriff: DCF was warned about Don Spirit in 2013, now accused of killing six children, daughter
Alachua County's sheriff says Florida's child welfare agency was warned in 2013 that a man who fatally shot his daughter and six grandchildren should be kept away from them.
Bell, FL– September 24, 2014 - Action News Jax- Bell shooting: Warning signs reported more than a year ago
A new report obtained from the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office shows a deputy assisted Department of Children and Families interviewing the Spirit family children and their grandmother in early June 2013.
Bell, FL– September 22, 2014 - The Miami Herald- DCF was alerted 2 weeks before deadly rampage in Bell, Florida
The Spirit family that child welfare investigators confronted two weeks ago presented a volatile mix: two drug-abusing adults, six small children and a history of violence.
Miami, FL– September 18, 2014 - The Miami Herald- Miami-Dade, Monroe get new DCF chief
The Department of Children & Families has appointed a new chief for Miami-Dade and Monroe counties, another change for an agency that has been criticized for failing to protect children from abusive caretakers.
Winter Park, FL– September 17, 2014 - The Orlando Sentinel- Workers abused autistic residents at Winter Park home, officials say
Three former employees of a Winter Park residential home for people with autism were charged with abuse, officials said Tuesday.
Miami, FL– September 15, 2014 - The Miami Herald- Nubia Barahona’s adoptive sister sues DCF
The adoptive sister of Nubia Barahona, the child whose gruesome death while under the care of her adoptive father and mother shook Florida a few years ago, filed a lawsuit on Monday against the Florida Department of Children & Families, a child welfare worker, and two former DCF investigators.
Mt. Dora, FL– September 14, 2014 - NBC News- 'Mom, Please Help': FBI Probing Alleged Abuse of Deaf, Autistic Kids
The FBI is investigating the alleged abuse and neglect of vulnerable deaf and autistic children at a residential treatment center in Florida, NBC News has learned.
Tallahassee, FL– August 29, 2014 - The Daily Business Review- Child Death Review Panel Sets Ambitious Agenda
The state panel charged with reviewing child deaths set an ambitious agenda against a tight deadline in hopes of reducing as many child deaths as possible.
Broward County, FL– August 28, 2014 - The Sun-Sentinel- Let a girl starve to death, you should get in trouble
How do you let a 12-year-old disabled girl starve to death slowly?
Broward County, FL– August 27, 2014 - The Miami Herald- Florida child welfare worker, 3 others charged in girl’s starvation death
Four women were charged in connection with the death of 12-year-old Tamiyah Audain, who died of starvation.
Miami, FL– August 18, 2014 - The Miami Herald- DCF was warned before boy was mauled to death by father's dogs
Three years before Javon Dade Jr. was mauled to death by his father’s dogs, state child protection workers were warned about “the smell and danger” of the six “untrained dogs” living in an apartment with Javon’s family.
Tallahassee, FL– August 16, 2014 - My News 13- Florida DCF system to be used in national pilot program
A system used by the Florida Department of Children and Families will be used as model in an upcoming national pilot project.
Miami, FL– August 13, 2014 - The Bradenton Herald- DCF accused of rigging grand jury findings in a report Miami judge calls a 'fraud'
Critics of a grand jury report citing improvements at DCF — including some members of the grand jury — say the panel heard only one side.
Naples, FL– July 31, 2014 - The Naples Florida Weekly- Foster Care’s Looming Crisis
More children are entering the child welfare system. More foster parents are needed to love these children as their own, then let them go.
Tallahassee, FL– July 26, 2014 - The Florida Times Union- Expert advocates 'baby court' for traumatized infants, toddlers
An expert on childhood trauma urged members of the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet to promote a “baby court” model in which judges, lawyers and caseworkers put the needs of traumatized infants and toddlers before any other considerations.
Jacksonville, FL– July 26, 2014 - The Florida Times Union- As DCF opens child death data, it still may not be enough
The vignettes are stark and the statistics grim, but the depth of a new Department of Children and Families website that tracks child deaths is falling short of some early expectations.
Daytona Beach, FL– July 23, 2014 - The Daytona Beach News-Journal- Help reduce child deaths
The Florida Department of Children & Families is committed to reducing child deaths. This is an achievable goal, but we can’t reach it alone. To make progress, we need the community’s help and we need it now.
Tampa, FL– July 16, 2014 - The Miami Herald- Finding foster homes for 800 special needs kids
Florida child welfare officials are pleading with residents to consider opening their home to a foster child with special needs.
Tallahassee, FL– July 14, 2014 - The Naples Daily News- Florida has more than 1,400 new foster homes
Florida has more than 1,400 new foster homes.
Apopka, FL– July 11, 2014 - WFTV Channel 9- Foster mom bonds out of jail after child left in car at Publix
A foster care parent bonded out of the Orange County Jail Friday morning after police said she left a young child in a car at a Publix grocery store on Thursday.
Tampa Bay, FL– July 9, 2014 - The Tampa Bay Times- Law protecting children requires followup, funding
With regard to recent reports about the 477 children who died who were known by the Department of Children and Families to potentially be at risk, the cases all involved the DCF's knowledge from prior investigations of children who would be in danger of future serious harm or death if left with their families.
Tampa, FL– July 8, 2014 - the Tampa Tribune- New child-safety law must be monitored
With regard to recent reports about the deaths of 477 children who were known by the Florida Department of Children and Families to potentially be at risk, the cases all involved DCF’s knowledge from prior investigations of children who would be in danger of future serious harm or death if left with their families.
Tallahassee, FL– June 26, 2014 - WFSU- Scott Signs Last Bill Of 2014 Session Aimed At Helping Florida's Disabled Kids
Governor Rick Scott has signed the final bill delivered to his desk into law Wednesday aimed at helping children with special needs.
Tallahassee, FL– June 23, 2014 - The Palm Beach Post- Fla. governor signs bill to overhaul child welfare
In response to a series of damning media reports about the deaths of children who had contact with the Department of Children and Families before their deaths, Governor Rick Scott signed a law today which strengthens child welfare laws and increases resources to protect children from abuse and neglect.
Tampa, FL– June 20, 2014 - The Tampa Bay Times- Fight scourge of domestic violence
Child advocate attorneys like myself often fight in courtrooms and the public realm to protect the rights, health and welfare of Florida's at-risk children. But all too often, the worst abuses go on in places we cannot see or reach — behind a family's closed doors.