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Florida’s Child Protection Summit Must Deliver Results, Not Promises

For an organization whose mission it is to protect the state’s most vulnerable citizens, the Florida Department of Children and Families has done a poor job of late. Child protection advocates and children’s rights attorneys who fight cases of physical abuse, sexual abuse, personal injury and even wrongful death have watched in horror as news reports revealed some 20 children had died under the watch or oversight of DCF. While the organization might not have actively been involved in each case, each child had – at some time – been known to the agency.

Now, the agency is looking for answers.

One step is the annual Child Protection Summit in Orlando, which was held this week. It offers DCF a chance to promote and kick-start improvements to the agency. Some called DCF’s current state “one of its periodic low points.” Former chief David Wilkins resigned in August amid reports of the inexplicable surge in child abuse and neglect deaths.


To child advocates, attorneys and members of the media who follow DCF, officials and the event “doesn’t quite reflect the urgency of the situation,” wrote the Lakeland Ledger. “Still, the event, with some 2,500 participants, can spread best practices as the department works to re-establish trust and accountability.”

Here’s hoping the event shines the light of examination upon the agency’s failures, invites all involved to seek out positive course corrections. Now is not the time to point the fingers of accusation. If DCF truly seeks change, especially under interim head Esther Jacobo, we all should help – as Mahatma Gandhi once famously said – “be the change we wish to see in the world.”

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