Miami, Florida - May 11, 2013 - Miami Herald - Duffels For Kids Helping Florida’s Foster Kids Trade Up Garbage Bags
-- Brandon Burke had to leave the home of a family friend in Fort Lauderdale before the end of the night, to be placed in his sixth foster home in Lauderhill. So Burke, 17 at the time, went to his bedroom and began to dump his life’s belongings into a large, black garbage bag — wrestling and karate trophies, khakis, sneakers. He left the home, bag in hand. For Burke, and so many of the children in Florida’s foster care system, this was a heartbreakingly normal way to move. In launching Duffels for Kids, the Florida State Foster/Adoptive Parent Association joins several other organizations across the nation working to replace makeshift luggage with something that feels a little more permanent. The first fundraiser will be held May 18.
Orlando, Florida - May 9, 2013 - Orlando Sentinel - Nation is Watching Florida's New Foster-Care Reforms
-- For thousands of foster kids across Florida, life is about to become a little more "normal." Under newly passed laws being watched by much of the nation, children growing up in the state's care will soon be allowed to play sports, sleep over at a friend's house, go to a movie or do any of the things other children do without their caretakers having to pursue background checks and court orders.
Tallahassee, Florida - May 2, 2013 - Miami Herald - Bill Extending Foster Care to Age 21 Goes to Gov. Rick Scott for Signature
-- The Florida House passed a bill Wednesday giving young adults in state custody the option of remaining until age 21 – three years longer than in current law – to reduce their chances of ending up homeless, jobless or in jail.
Brooksville, Florida - April 29, 2013 - Hernando Today - Center Helps Victimized Children
-- The portable buildings are tucked away off of East Jefferson Avenue in south Brooksville. A playground is just steps away for feisty children who just need to run. Inside, brightly colored carpets and stuffed animals greet children referred to the Child Advocacy Center of Hernando County, a central location where young victims come for interviews, medical exams and counseling.
Miami, Florida - April 24, 2013 - Miami Herald - Abuse Ridden ALF Ordered to Close
-- The Hillandale Assisted Living Facility, a Tampa Bay-area home where disabled young adults were raped, beaten, drugged and locked in a dank closet — one resident was struck by a car and killed — may be closing its doors on the orders of state health regulators.
Gainesville, Florida - April 5, 2013 - Miami Herald - Law Will Help Foster Kids Be Kids
-- Normal. For Florida kids in foster care — and the foster parents, guardians and attorneys who advocate for their lives and futures — the word “normal” was not in their vocabulary. They have little access to normal healthcare channels, like other kids do. They often get shuttled from one school to the next when they change foster homes. School field trips, play dates and sleepovers require approval from case managers at best or, at worst, fingerprints and background checks.
Miami, Florida - March 28, 2013 - Daily Business Review - Attorneys Help Find Child-Welfare Agencies Negligent
-- Howard Talenfeld, Stacie Schmerling and Joel Fass got Broward County's ChildNet to pay up to its maximum policy limit of $2 million and the Florida Department of Children and Family Services to pay up to its statutory cap of $200,000 in a case involving the suspected abuse of two kindergarten-age sisters.
Tallahassee, Florida - January 18, 2013 - NBC 6 Miami - Error Was Made in Email About Dontrell Melvin: Department of Children and Families Official
-- A high-ranking Department of Children and Families official acknowledged that an email that said missing boy Dontrell Melvin was seen in October 2012 was a mistake. The email released by DCF said that an investigator saw the child on Oct. 14, 2012, even though police have said he was last seen around July 2011.
Montgomery, Alabama - January 17, 2013 - National Public Radio - Why A Young Man Died In A Nursing Home, A State Away From His Mom
-- Zach Sayne was 25 when he died earlier this month at the place that had been his home for 15 years — a children's nursing home in Alabama. But that was too far away, 200 miles too far, for his mother in Georgia. Nola Sayne was trying to bring him back, closer to her home. The story of why she couldn't reveals the bureaucratic traps, underfunding and lack of choices that plague state Medicaid programs..
Port St. Lucie, Florida - January 5, 2013 - (AP) - DCF Wants Unlicensed Religious Children's Home Closed
-- State officials asked a judge Friday to shut down an unlicensed Port St. Lucie children's home that for years has been allowed to operate despite evidence it has hurt kids in its care. In an 80-page petition, attorneys for the Department of Children and Families cataloged more than a dozen incidents in which its investigators found evidence children were neglected, injured or otherwise mistreated while in the care of Alan Weierman, the self-professed "colonel" who runs Southeastern Military Academy. The agency says the home must be shut down because it operates with no state license and has failed to get other state-recognized credentials, such as private school accreditation.
Miami, Florida - December 29, 2012 - (AP) - Attorney Takes on Case Pro Bono: Helps Reveal How Florida Limits Care for Disabled Kids
-- "In September, the U.S. Justice Department said Florida had 'planned, structured and administered a system of care that has led to the unnecessary segregation and isolation of children, often for many years,' in geriatric nursing homes," reported the Miami Herald. "Children in such homes often spend their days in virtual seclusion, lying in bed or watching television, the civil rights division wrote." With children's rights attorney Howard Talenfeld at her side, a single mother sought to fight the way Florida cares for its most at-risk, disabled children.
Jacksonville, Florida - December 28, 2012 - (AP) - Florida Department of Children and Families Extends Contract for Welfare Services
-- Child welfare services for the county got a big boost recently when the state’s Department of Children and Families extended a contract with Family Support Services of North Florida to provide assistance and a variety of programs to families in need. The $48.7 million contract, which includes services in Duval County, lasts through 2018. FSS has provided core child welfare services in Nassau County since 2007. The agency is one of about 20 in the state that provides community-based care in child welfare.
Tallahassee, Florida - December 27, 2012 - (AP) - Non-Profit with State Contracts Pays Top Exec $1.2 Million
-- A nonprofit company that holds two dozen state contracts to care for troubled juveniles in Florida pays its chief executive more than $1.2 million a year in salary and benefits, most of it courtesy of taxpayers. Outraged, the state Department of Juvenile Justice says the money paid to William Schossler is excessive and should be spent to help kids. The state wants the hefty paydays to stop.
Miami Gardens, Florida - December 20, 2012 - (AP) - DCF Chief David Wilkins Inspects Adult Nursing Home Where Child Died
-- Florida's top child-welfare administrator secretary, Department of Children & Families Secretary David Wilkins, made a surprise visit to the troubled Golden Glades Nursing & Rehabilitation under investigation over its treatment of medically fragile children in state care and subject of one of the harshest federal fines in recent history after the death of a 14-year-old Tampa girl who was taken to the home last year despite her mother’s emphatic objections.
Tallahassee, Florida - December 2, 2012 - (AP) - DCF Chief David Wilkins: Rilya Wilson's Death Spurred Important Changes
-- In an editorial, Department of Children and Families chief David Wilkins writes, "As the current murder trial proceeds, it is important that Floridians know that Rilya’s tragic death was more than one awful incident. It spurred decisions that have made children safer today."
Tallahassee, Florida - November 30, 2012 - (AP) - More Than 500 Children Adopted Across Florida During November
-- More than 500 children from Pensacola to Miami were adopted during dozens of November celebrations of National Adoption Month.
“Our goal for children in foster care is to find a forever family who will love them, accept them and give them the home that they deserve,” said Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins. "I am so proud of our agency and our partners who are always looking for a permanent home for our kids.”
Miami, Florida - November 28, 2012 - Miami Herald - South Miami-Dade Woman Adopts Five Siblings
-- A South Miami-Dade woman, Katrina Deshazior, 32 and a single mother of a teenager, adopted her drug-addicted sister's five children, because she “wanted to give them love.”.
Miami, Florida - November 26, 2012 - Miami Herald - A League of Their Own: Special-Needs Kids Play Ball
-- The Miami-Dade Miracle League offers children with mental and physical challenges the chance to play ball. Players ranging in age from 3 to 22 gathered at Suniland Park in Pinecrest on Nov. 17 for the Miami-Dade Miracle League’s inaugural game.
Parkland, Florida - November 8, 2012 - (AP) - Broward School Bus Attendant Accused of Choking Autistic Boy, 13
-- A Broward County School District bus attendant is accused of choking an autistic boy on a bus ride from Westglades Middle School to the child's Deerfield Beach home, according to a Broward Sheriff's Office report.
Darryl Blue, 48, of Fort Lauderdale, was charged with aggravated child abuse. The child, Moises Mancebo, has not been himself since the alleged Oct. 9 incident, his mother said.
Coral Gables, Florida - October 31, 2012 - (AP) - Child Welfare Officials Discuss Human Trafficking
-- Florida's child welfare officials are discussing their plans to fight human trafficking. The Florida Children and Youth Cabinet will hold its regular meeting Wednesday in Coral Gables at the University of Miami. In attendance will be Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins, Florida's Chief Child Advocate Zack Gibson and the Director of the Governor's Office of Adoption. The group will discuss the state's plans to fight human trafficking and provide assistance to victims. A new volunteer Advocate for Human Trafficking will also be named as part of the Governor's Office of Adoption and Child Protection.
Tallahassee, Florida - October 29, 2012 - WFSU - Foster Kids Turn Up In Unlicensed Facilities
-- The Florida Department of Children and Families is launching an investigation to figure out how a number of Florida foster children wound up in unlicensed homes. Florida DCF officials have identified a handful of kids who’ve been unlawfully placed in facilities that aren’t licensed by the Florida department. Spokeswoman Erin Gillespie said the department is working to make sure it won’t happen again. She said the placements were not made by DCF employees.
Miami, Florida - October 25, 2012 - Miami Herald - Miami Archdiocese Suspends Priest Accused of Sexual Abuse
The Archdiocese of Miami changed course Wednesday and suspended the Rev. Rolando Garcia, pastor of the St. Agatha Church, after an Iraq veteran accused him of abuse in the 1990s in Hollywood.
Treasure Coast, Florida - October 24, 2012 - TC News - Thumb Down: Domestic Violence Remains a Major Problem in Florida
FAMILY VIOLENCE: Last year, in Florida, there were 111,681 reports of domestic violence. Clearly, there were many more such situations that were not reported. Of those that were reported, 192 individuals died from that violence, representing almost 20 percent of all homicides in the state…The cycle of domestic abuse in Florida must end. Recognizing the problem and taking action are critical steps.
Tallahassee, Florida - October 5, 2012 - 10 News Tampa Bay - Child Abuse Reports Increase Under New Florida Law
Anyone in Florida can be charged now with a felony for failing to report child abuse. A new state law took effect this week that's being called the "Penn State law" because it followed the Jerry Sandusky child molesting scandal. The Protection of Vulnerable Persons law requires anyone to report child abuse to the Florida Abuse Hotline. Failure to do so could result in felony charges, or if someone at a university fails to report, the school could face fines of up to $1 million.
Pembroke Pines, Florida - October 1, 2012 - Pembroke Pines Juvenile Center to Close After Contract Isn't Renewed
A Pembroke Pines juvenile center with a history of complaints is scheduled to close its doors in January, officials say. The decision comes after the Broward Public Defender's Office in July had asked a three-judge panel to help scrutinize the academy — a 154-bed youth offender and treatment facility — over allegations of children being physically abused at the facility..
New Smyrna Beach, Florida - September 18, 2012 - Deputies: DCF Worker Wanted Sex With Woman in Exchange for Clean Drug Test
A former Florida Department of Children and Families investigator was arrested Friday for soliciting sexual favors from a New Smyrna Beach woman in exchange for using his own urine for her drug screening. Andrew Thomas, 32 (10/22/80), was taken into custody at his current home in Carlisle, Pa. on a warrant charging him with bribery by a public servant, official misconduct, and falsifying records.
Tallahassee, Florida - September 10, 2012 - Mother Jones Rick Scott Rejects Health Care Funds That Would Keep Disabled Kids Out of Nursing Homes
Florida's Republican governor Rick Scott loathes Obamacare so much that he turned down $40 million in federal health care funds that would keep hundreds of disabled kids at home with their parents, rather than warehoused in nursing homes. So says the Department of Justice, whose civil rights division recently investigated the situation in Florida.
Miami, Florida - September 6, 2012 - State of Florida Child Abuse Hotline Upgraded
Child welfare officials are overhauling the state abuse hotline, adding faster technology and retraining staff so they can provide investigators with more updated information about alleged abuse and a family's background before a home visit.
Hollywood, Florida - August 15, 2012 - Police: Parents Arrested After Leaving Toddler Alone in Hard Rock Casino Hotel Room
The parents of a 20-month-old were arrested after allegedly leaving the boy alone inside a Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino hotel room while the two went out for dinner and drinks. According to officials, the couple put the child to sleep on a bed and unplugged the telephone so he wouldn't be disturbed. Investigators with the Seminole Police said the child was left inside the room for at least 45 minutes.
Central Florida - August 12, 2012 - Florida Hospital Claims Fertilizer Company Pushing Probe by Department of Children & Families
The Department of Children and Families — with two other state agencies — conducted an unannounced inspection of The Florida Institute of Neurologic Rehabilitation last week, just days after Bloomberg News published a story outlining abuse allegations. The Institute says a local fertilizer company is pushing the probe and claims the charges are old and being rehashed as part of the nearby fertilizer company's efforts to gain a lucrative permit to extract millions of dollars of phosphate.
Miami, Florida - August 12, 2012 - Miami Herald: Nightmare on Flagler Street: After Arrest of Parents, Neighbors, Cops Find Filthy Mess
The arrest form was shocking, but so was the home on West Flagler Street. Used needles littered a dirty windowsill beside a bilingual Bible. Piles of brightly colored toys and soiled, smelly clothes covered the floor where cockroaches scurried through kitty litter between two stained mattresses. The smell was overwhelming; a blend of human filth, animal excrement and the stench from an empty, mildewed refrigerator.
Los Angeles, California - August 6, 2012 - AP: Boy Scout Files Reveal Repeat Child Abuse
Internal documents from the Boy Scouts of America reveal more than 125 cases in which men suspected of molestation allegedly continued to abuse Scouts, despite a blacklist meant to protect boys from sexual predators, the Los Angeles Times reported. A Los Angeles Times review of more than 1,200 files from 1970 to 1991 found suspected abusers regularly remained in the organization after officials were first presented with sexual misconduct allegations. In at least 50 cases, the Scouts expelled suspected abusers, only to discover they had re-entered the organization and were accused of molesting again.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida - August 3, 2012 - Miami Herald: Broward Sheriff's Office Investigates Death of Boy, 4, Left in Sweltering SUV
Broward authorities are investigating the death of a 4-year-old boy left in a sweltering SUV for more than two hours by the 20-year-old daughter of a Sunrise day-care operator. Sources told The Miami Herald Thursday that the boy, Jordan Coleman, and seven other children had been taken to a Tamarac apartment complex by van on Wednesday, allegedly because the owner of 3C’s Day Academy was afraid that child-care-licensing administrators would visit and discover she was caring for more children than her license allowed.
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