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Archive for the ‘Investigations’ Category

Florida Department of Children and Families Adds New Data to Child Deaths Site

Florida child abuse attorneys and advocates are watching a move to boost transparency around the deaths of children known to the Florida Department of Children and Families to be at risk of harm. The agency has added to a new website five years of data regarding child abuse deaths.

The pubic site, which was mandated by the Florida Legislature in the wake of the deaths of almost 500 children over the past several years, is being updated each week. It includes new data on the fatalities children stemming from neglect, abuse or other harm.

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News: Florida DCF Lets Childcare Facilities Leave Complaints Behind

November 15th, 2011   No Comments   Abuse, Investigations

When a Brandenton childcare facility was cited numerous times for various violations in a single year, the owner moved sites – and left record of some 57 complaints behind, according to ABC Action News in Tampa. The move is completely legal, according to the Florida Department of Children and Families.

As parents, guardians and advocacy attorneys concerned with the safety of children, having information about caregiver licensing, security background checks or facility maintenance and upkeep is vital to avoiding personal injury, dangerous situations or potential abuse or harm. Yet, according to the news investigation, “Since DCF licenses the location and not the person who owns or operates the daycare, erasing complaints made against you is as easy as moving.” Read the entire story here.

Barahona Abuse Case Motivates DCF Secretary Wilkins to Improve Abuse Hotline

David Wilkins, secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families, says the agency has made changes following the “horrific” child abuse case of Miami twins Victor and Nubia Barahona. Wilkins says the changes were created to help prevent abuse from occuring again.

Wilkins says DCF has put in place 19 short-term changes to improve the safety of children under its care. Changes include new procedures for hotline workers and working more closely on investigations with law enforcement. Florida children now are safer as a result of the changes, Wilkins says, according to First Coast News.

The changes follow the February discovery of Nubia Barahona, who was found dead in a garbage bag in her adoptive father, Jorge Barahona’s truck in Palm Beach County. Her twin brother, Victor, was found doused with toxic chemicals and left clinging to life. A report released from a Miami-Dade County grand jury that found DCF missed signs of abuse in the case, placed too much trust in the adoptive parents and failed to communicate effectively with child abuse investigators, according to First Coast News. Read the entire story here.

State Reviews, Revises Findings in Gabriel Myers Foster Care Suicide

The investigations, questions, hearings and discussions lasted more than a year following the apparent suicide in a Florida foster home of Gabriel Myers, a 7-year-old boy on the care of Florida Department of Children and Families — and under the influence of a cocktail of psychotropic medications.

Gabriel Myers (image from Florida DCF)But it wasn’t to be that easy. Florida child welfare administrators, who closed their case in 2010 after finding that none of Gabriel’s caregivers had abused or neglected him.

The agency soon reopened the case, backtracked, and according to reports in the Miami Herald, “verified allegations that Gabriel’s foster parents and their then-19-year-old son, who was baby-sitting that day, were responsible for Gabriel’s death — one of the most controversial in agency history.”

Discussions leading to the new outcome centered on a series of difficult questions that confronted the child welfare agency as it was seeking to redefine itself and promote a greater sense of family among foster children. Read the entire story here.

Call Made For Grand Jury Review of Florida Department of Children and Families Handling of Barahona Case

Apparently, the Florida Department of Children and Families’ blue ribbon panel wasn’t enough. Some now are calling for a grand jury investigation in the wake of the grisly death of Nubia Barahona and the critical injuries to her twin brother, Victor.

Past grand juries were able to identify failures and help correct the process. Wrote the Palm Beach Post, “Those grand jury reports a decade ago improved a system that never will be risk-free on its best day. And we don’t want the DCF now to shift away from keeping families together when possible and seeking out adoptive parents for foster children. But what happened to Nubia and Victor was so horrible that only an outside look can determine why these children were not protected.”

Read the entire editorial here.