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.