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Florida Child Advocate provides insights, links and news regarding protecting the rights of Florida’s sexually abused, physically abused, neglected and disabled children, as well as medically fragile, developmentally disabled foster and other at-risk children. For the most current news, read Child Advocacy News in the right column of this site…

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.

Tallahassee, FL– June 13, 2014 – The Tampa Bay Times- Lawmaker calls DCF inquiry into child deaths a “whitewash” A Department of Children & Families investigation into the withholding and possible destruction of child death records was completed this week without generating a single record.

Orlando, FL– June 11, 2014 – WFTV 9- Family of toddler found dead investigated previously WFTV learned there were three previous investigations into the parents of a toddler who was found dead inside an Orange County hotel room from what investigators said was severe abuse.

Miami, FL– June 4, 2014 – The Miami Herald- Guardian ad Litem volunteers make a difference in children’s lives The Guardian ad Litem Program, a volunteer-based organization, advocates for the best interests of our communities’ most vulnerable population: children who have been abused, abandoned and neglected. These children, through no fault of their own, become part of an overburdened dependency system.

Broward County, FL– June 1, 2014 – The Sun-Sentinel- Foster care kids continue to grow in number in Broward Economic indicators may finally be trending upward in Broward County after the recession, but the area has seen a significant increase in the number of children in foster care over the last 18 months.

Tallahassee, FL– May 23, 2014 – The Daily Business Review- Children’s Advocacy Bill Awaits Governor’s Signature For decades, Florida case law said children, unlike parents, have no constitutional right to an attorney in dependency court.

Tallahassee, FL– May 15, 2014 – The Miami Herald- New DCF boss names child death prevention czar In his second week on the job, the Department of Children & Families’ top administrator made good on his first formal pledge by appointing a professional social worker and agency veteran to be the state’s first statewide fatality prevention specialist.

Miami, FL– May 14, 2014 – WLRN- Understanding The Guardian Ad Litem Program A Guardian ad Litem is the court-appointed voice of a child when government agencies suspect abuse or neglect. But the GAL program is, on the surface, unusual.

To see more stories on children’s rights issues and actions, visit the Newsfeed on this site.

Tallahassee, FL– May 7, 2014 – The Tallahassee Democrat- A win for needy children Sometimes, doing the right thing at the right time requires unwavering commitment and unsung leadership.

Tallahassee, FL– May 5, 2014 – The Miami Herald- New DCF chief promises to keep agency’s child death reports “as open as can be Hours into his first day as top administrator of the Department of Children & Families, Mike Carroll on Monday began a far-reaching reform of his agency’s response to child deaths — and promised to make the troubled agency more open to public scrutiny.

Miami, FL– May 4, 2014 – The Miami Herald- Win for at-risk kids Sometimes, doing the right thing at the right time requires unwavering commitment and unsung leadership. In what can be called nothing less than an impressive example of leadership in both houses, the Florida Legislature passed a bipartisan bill to provide attorneys to represent dependent, special-needs children in the legal custody of the Florida Department of Children & Families.

Tallahassee, FL– April 22, 2014 – The Miami Herald- House and Senate settle on $47 million in new money for child welfare With breakneck speed, House and Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations conference committees met Tuesday morning and agreed to $47 million in new money for child welfare services, far below what child advocates had hoped for but more money for treatment services than either chamber had originally sought.

Tallahassee, FL– April 20, 2014 – CBS 12 News- Florida’s Department Of Children And Families Seek To Fill The “Gaps” In Child Services Florida lawmakers are working to add more services to prevent child abuse and neglect and they have until July 1st to formulate the plan.

Tallahassee, FL– April 10, 2014 – WFOR CBS Miami- Senate Group Home Proposal Spurs Debate A debate is brewing about a Senate proposal that could lead to some children in state care being placed in group homes instead of with foster families.

Tallahassee, FL– April 2, 2014 – WFSU- Senators Ponder Creating Child Welfare Czar Florida’s Department of Children and Families is a step closer to adding an official who’d be tasked with reducing the number of children who die after coming into contact with the agency.

Tallahassee, FL– March 27, 2014 – The Bradenton Herald- Florida’s Department of Children and Families dedicated to child safety The increased attention and scrutiny of Florida’s child welfare system prompted by the Miami Herald series “Innocents Lost” is welcome.

Tampa Bay, FL– March 20, 2014 – The Tampa Bay Times- Officials must act on child safety A recent investigation into the deaths of 477 children who were known to be at risk by the Department of Children and Families shockingly revealed the abysmal failure of DCF and its community partners to protect these children.

Miami, FL– March 16, 2014 – The Miami Herald- Preserving Families But Losing Children Fraternal twins Tariji and Tavont’ae Gordon were born together but died two years, eight months and 24 days apart. One was buried in a potter’s field; the other was disposed of in a shallow grave covered by earth, plywood and a sheet of tin.

Tallahassee, FL– March 8, 2014 – The Palm Beach Post- Will child killings stop? Angry and exasperated by the deaths of more than 40 children last year whose troubled families had already crossed paths with investigators from the Department of Children and Families, lawmakers are proposing vast changes to the state’s child protection system, from paying the tuition of investigators, limiting caseloads and requiring foster parents to undergo drug tests.

Orlando, FL– March 3, 2014 – The Orlando Sentinel- Fundamental change needed in wake of child’s death Before Tariji Gordon there was Bradley McGee. And Kayla McKean. And Rilya Wilson, Diella Ludwig and Nubia Barahona. All of these children should be alive today. Their deaths were preventable.

Mechanicsburg, PA– February 23, 2014 – The Wall Street Journal- Drugged as Children, Foster-Care Alumni Speak Out As a teenager in foster care, Chris Nobles was on a steady diet of psychiatric drugs—an antidepressant, an anti-seizure medicine and a powerful antipsychotic.

Orlando, FL – February 17, 2014 – The Orlando Sentinel- Critics: DCF too quick to put kids back with family In the days after 2-year-old Tariji Gordon was found buried in a shallow grave — just three months after the state returned her to the custody of her mother — critics are questioning whether Florida should rethink its policy of reunifying children with the parents who abused or neglected them.

Tallahassee, FL – February 9, 2014 – The Miami Herald- Advocates push for improvements in caring, treating sexually abused foster children The suicide of 7-year-old Gabriel Myers in foster care shocked the child-welfare system in 2009. It led to a series of recommendations about Florida’s use of psychotropic medications on foster kids and how to protect already-traumatized children from sexual abuse by other abused children.

Tallahassee, FL – January 30, 2014 – The Miami Herald- Children advocates needed in court system Kim DelGaudio was working for the Department of Children and Families when it dawned on her. “I would have guardian ad litem on some of my cases,” DelGaudio says. “And I realized quickly that those cases went a lot more smoothly, and those volunteers were really there to help me.”

North Miami, FL – January 22, 2014 – The Miami Herald- Mom charged in boy’s torture death A North Miami woman was arrested Tuesday evening after she admitted to fatally torturing her 3-year-old son.

Orlando, FL – January 21, 2014 – The Orlando Sentinel- ’48 Hours’: Florida DCF helped on adoption show This weekend’s “48 Hours” on international adoptions features help from the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Orlando, FL – January 10, 2014 – WOFL FOX 35- DCF: Foster care extends beyond age 18 As of January 1, children turning 18 years old will be allowed to remain in foster care programs as young adults.

Tallahassee, FL – January 6, 2014 – WFOR CBS Miami- Florida Senate Takes Next Step Toward DCF Reform Florida Senate President Don Gaetz on Monday took the next step toward reforming the state Department of Children and Families by asking the author of a white paper to address a Senate panel on how to improve the agency’s approach to child safety.

Tallahassee, FL – December 29, 2013 – The Fort Myers News-Press- Florida bill helps foster kids’ driving Earning a driver’s license is a rite of passage for many Florida teenagers, but it’s an experience teenagers in foster care often miss. In 2012, the Florida Department of Children and Families surveyed 742 teenagers in foster care and found 1 percent of 16-year-olds and 3 percent of 17-year-olds had a driver’s license.

Tallahassee, FL – December 20, 2013 – The Huffington Post Miami- Rick Scott Blasted For Deaths Of 40 Children South Florida Democrats fired a stinging rebuke at Gov. Rick Scott (R) Thursday, holding him responsible for the deaths of 40 children who were known to state child welfare workers when they died during the first half of 2013.

Palatka, FL – December 12, 2013 – The Florida Times Union- With a focus on reforms after child deaths, DCF holds conference to discuss domestic abuse You’re an abuse case worker, and you’re in the living room of a woman whose husband has hit her. Your options, including spitting up her family, aren’t simple. What’s the best move? That’s what the Florida Department of Children & Families investigators and Northeast Florida domestic violence shelter workers came together to discuss Thursday at a conference in Palatka.

Bunnell, FL – December 4, 2013 – The Daytona Beach News-Journal- Motions dropped in Flagler child abuse case A trial date will soon be scheduled for a former Palm Coast day care business owner accused of abusing and critically injuring a 1-year-old boy more than three years ago, the defense attorney said.

Tallahassee, FL – December 4, 2013 – WTVJ NBC 6- Esther Jacobo Hopeful That DCF Has “Learned a Lesson” From Jayden Villegas-Morales Case The death of a Homestead toddler this summer has been under review by a national child welfare organization.

Tallahassee, FL – November 21, 2013 – WFOR CBS 4- New Law Letting Kids Stay In Foster Care Till 21 Gets Pushback A new law giving young adults in foster care the option of staying until age 21 is slated to go into effect January 1, 2014.

Tallahassee, FL – November 20, 2013 – The Daily Business Review- Budget Questions Arise From DCF Reform Work As lawmakers, judges, providers and children’s advocates engage in Florida’s latest debate about the rate of child deaths statewide, all eyes are on the next budget being crafted for the Department of Children and Families.

Fort Lauderdale, FL – November 17, 2013 – WPLG Local 10- This Week in South Florida Local 10’s Michael Putney discusses the issues with Department of Children and Families after at least 25 children have died since April at the hands of abusive and violent parents or other caregivers.

Fort Lauderdale, FL – November 15, 2013 – The Florida Bar News- Letters: DCF Developmentally disabled children in the Florida Department of Children and Families’ care and custody are the most vulnerable children in Florida; however, often they have no one to advocate for their needs or argue in juvenile court on their behalf before governmental agencies.

Fort Lauderdale, FL – November 13, 2013 – The Miami Herald- Workable solution needed for Florida’s children The Nov. 3 editorial, Abuse, child deaths continue, says that in the wake of the deaths of 25 children known by the Florida Department of Children & Families to be potentially at risk, the agency “should declare immediately that DCF’s policy of keeping families together — no matter what, it seems — can no longer be its overriding policy if children in mortal danger are to be rescued from their abusers.”

Fort Lauderdale, FL – November 10, 2013 – The Tampa Bay Times- Best practices for care The Florida Department of Children and Families has argued for years in support of its policy of keeping troubled families together. In the wake of the deaths of 25 children known by DCF potentially to be at harm, some have called the policy flawed.

Tallahassee, FL – November 5, 2013 – The Miami Herald- DCF consultant rips agency for fatally bungled child safety efforts Two years ago, Destene Simmons grabbed a pillow and held it over the face of her son in an apparent attempt to smother him. Antwan Hope screamed. Simmons’ mother barged in the room. Tragedy was averted.

Tallahassee, FL – November 5, 2013 – The Florida Current- DCF response exasperates lawmaker during hearing on child deaths Dozens of children die from abuse and neglect each year despite intervention by the Department of Children and Families and Community Based Care organizations.

Tallahassee, FL – November 5, 2013 – The Miami Herald- Committee seeks changes aimed at preventing future child deaths The question before the Senate committee was simple: Why did Florida’s child welfare system fail to protect the more than 40 children who are known to have died under its care between January and July?

Palm Beach County, FL – November 3, 2013 – The Miami Herald- Fla. abuse victim wins $5M lawsuit against DCF A young victim of sex abuse at the hands of an older foster child has won a $5 million lawsuit against the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Port Charlotte, FL – October 31, 2013 – The Fort Myers News-Press- Parents of tortured Port Charlotte boy suing DCF and other agencies The adoptive parents of a boy left in a Port Charlotte home for several months despite telling child welfare officials he was being trapped and tortured by his stepmother are suing three agencies for failing to protect him.

Palm Beach County, FL – October 29, 2013 – Sunshine State News- $5 Million Verdict Against DCF in Sex Abuse Case Could Go to Lawmakers A Palm Beach County jury on Friday found that the state Department of Children and Families should pay $5 million in the sexual assault of a 9-year-old boy by a slightly older foster child — but collecting the money will be easier said than done.

Lee County, FL – October 28, 2013 – The Miami Herald- Despite ‘red flags,’ 3-year-old under state supervision restrained to death in blanket So afraid of his mother’s boyfriend was Samantha McMullen’s son that he asked state child protection investigators to rescue him and his siblings from the man, so he “would not kill them.”

Palm Beach County, FL – October 25, 2013 – The Sun-Sentinel Jury awards $5 million over sexual assault by foster child The father argued two social service agencies failed in their duty to warn about a 10-year-old foster child’s violent background and sexually aggressive nature, leading to a life-altering 2003 attack on the dad’s natural son in Wellington.

Fort Lauderdale, FL – October 21, 2013 – The Daily Business Review Scrutiny Of Florida’s Child Welfare System Intensifies As the three CEOs of Florida’s privatized child welfare agencies faced lawmakers last week, the stakes were high. The House Healthy Families Committee was looking into a recent wave of children’s deaths — children already known to the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Fort Lauderdale, FL – October 21, 2013 – The Daily Business Review Letter To Editor: Attorneys Should Advocate For Disabled Children It’s long been a concern for children’s rights supporters throughout Florida. Developmentally disabled children in DCF’s care and custody are the most vulnerable children in Florida; however, often they have no one to advocate for their needs or argue in juvenile court on their behalf before governmental agencies.

West Palm Beach, FL – October 16, 2013 – The Palm Beach Post Courtroom in tears as victim of alleged sexual acts recounts abuse at hands of foster brother Howard Talenfeld serves as co-counsel on this case.

Tallahassee, FL – October 14, 2013 – The Sun-Sentinel- Help protect children first I applaud interim Department of Children and Families Secretary Esther Jacobo for her efforts to address the issues with our state’s child protection services.

Broward County, FL – October 10, 2013 – The Sun-Sentinel- Child-protection worker accused of falsifying reports A Broward sheriff’s employee entrusted to help shield kids from harm didn’t even bother to meet five children she needed to watch over, possibly compromising their safety, authorities say.

West Palm Beach, FL – October 10, 2013 – The Palm Beach Post- Wellington father suing DCF after he took in abused boy: We loved him In October 2003, more than a year after they brought Jerald into their home, a Wellington finally learned about the horrific abuse he had suffered and realized they were incapable of providing him the help he needed.

West Palm Beach, FL – October 8, 2013 – The Palm Beach Post- Man testifies DCF failed to warn him about abusive past of child he took into home In the weeks before 10-year-old Jerald came to live with a Wellington couple, he had been repeatedly raped by a 19-year-old in a house where state officials sent him after they rescued him from his neglectful mother.

West Palm Beach, FL – October 2, 2013 – The Sun-Sentinel- DCF on trial over sexual assault by foster child When the 10-year-old foster child arrived in late summer 2002, he came with tremendous baggage: Sexually molested as a toddler; raised in poverty and around drugs; and repeatedly raped by an older neighborhood boy described as a “sexual deviant.”

West Palm Beach, FL – October 2, 2013 – WPEC CBS 12 – Family Sues DCF After Biological Son Is Molested By Adoptive Son It took place in 2002, but 11 years later it’s finally coming to light. Christopher Han and his wife suing DCF after they say the child adoption agency did not warn them the child they were about to adopt was sexually aggressive.

Miami, FL – October 1, 2013 – WSVN 7 News – Mother charged with child neglect Police have arrested a mother accused of leaving her two young children alone.

Sunrise, FL – September 29, 2013 – The Sun-Sentinel – New information sheds light on case of Sunrise boy who died in hot SUV There were things that Jordan Coleman’s day care playmates remembered about the day he died — the day the 4-year-old was left in a sweltering SUV.

West Palm Beach, FL – September 29, 2013 – The Palm Beach Post – Two children home alone in suburban West Palm Beach; mother charged with child abuse, marijuana possession A suburban West Palm Beach woman is facing charges after authorities alleged that she left her two young children alone last week in a home with marijuana and moldy food.

Fort Lauderdale, FL – September 24, 2013 – WPLG Local 10 – Boy sues DCF over stabbing A lawsuit filed against the Department of Children and Families alleges the department didn’t do enough to a protect a now 9-year-old boy who was stabbed by his father in February 2012.

Fort Lauderdale, FL – September 24, 2013 – WFOR CBS4 – Boy Sues DCF For Negligence Attorneys representing a nine-year old boy have filed a lawsuit in Broward County against Florida’s Department of Children and Families, claiming negligence and culpable negligence.

Tallahasee, FL – September 24, 2013 – WUFT – Rising Death Toll From Child Abuse Puts DCF Under Fire A rising number of child deaths in Florida has people looking with trepidation at child welfare services across the state.

Tallahassee, FL – September 18, 2013 – WTSP 10 News – Florida DCF rewarded for helping kids find their forever homes T he Florida Department of Children and Families wins a national award and $5 million for its success in finding adoptive homes for children.

Boynton Beach, FL – September 17, 2013 – The Sun-Sentinel – Mom to face child neglect charge after toddler found alone in Boynton roadway, police say The little boy, who’s a week shy of 2 years old, was unharmed when an off-duty firefighter spotted him just before 6 a.m. in the middle of Congress Avenue.

Orlando, FL – September 17, 2013 – The Orlando Sentinel – Mom bashed daughter’s head with pot, report alleges A self-described “stressed-out” Orlando woman is accused of beating her daughter with a pot and punching the girl in the face.

Hialeah, FL – September 17, 2013 – WPLG Local 10 – 23-month-old boy shows no brain activity after motel window fall A 23-month-old boy who fell from the second-story window of a motel in Hialeah is showing no brain activity, the child’s guardian ad litem testified during a shelter hearing Tuesday.

Jacksonville, FL – September 7, 2013 – The Florida Times Union – DCF to lead push to help people of struggling 32209 ZIP code Right now, the 32209 ZIP code is a community in crisis. The neighborhoods on Jacksonville’s northwest side have the city’s highest rates of family poverty, infant and child deaths, teen pregnancy, unemployment and homicides, among other things.

Tallahassee, FL – September 7, 2013 – The Naples Daily News – Florida’s family drug courts help parents clean up, families reunite It’s been a maxim at the Florida Department of Children and Families that if there were no substance abuse or mental illness, the agency could shut its doors. But with substance abuse still threatening to overwhelm child-welfare systems like Florida’s, officials are looking at drug courts for troubled families as a way to address the problem.

Tampa Bay, FL – August 23, 2013 – The Tampa Bay Times – Deaths point to faults in DCF Advocates, guardians and attorneys who represent and protect the state’s most vulnerable children from harm were horrified by the deaths of four children in four months — all of whom were known to the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Miami, FL – August 20, 2013 – The Miami Herald – DCF gets a grilling from judges over 4-year-old’s care Miami-Dade County’s entire child welfare bench presided over a virtually unprecedented hearing Tuesday in which the five judges grilled lawyers and an investigator with the Department of Children & Families over “systemic” failures that have left children dead or gravely injured.

National News – August 12, 2013 – USA Today – Adoption numbers rising for kids in foster care The percentage of kids adopted from foster care is swinging upward, a new report suggests.

Tallahassee, FL – August 8, 2013 – The Naples Daily News – DCF to use new performance measures in foster care Florida child welfare officials are creating new performance measures to evaluate its 17 private contractors that oversee foster care around the state.

Sweetwater, FL – August 2, 2013  – The Miami Herald – Mom charged with keeping autistic son in Sweetwater ‘dungeon’ says she tried to get him help  Lately, Gladys Jaramillo’s idea of caring for her adult son with autism was locking him in a squalid, sweltering room, which got her arrested and charged with aggravated abuse, neglect of a mentally disabled adult, and false imprisonment.

Miami, FL – August 2, 2013  – The Miami Herald – After tragedy, judge clamps down on DCF  Reeling from the brutal death of a 2-year-old boy he was entrusted to protect, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael A. Hanzman is peeling away much of the authority state child welfare officials normally enjoy in his courtroom — and taking more matters into his own hands.

Tallahassee, FL – July 31, 2013 – WFOR CBS 4 – DCF Considers Working With Law Enforcement On Child Investigations In the state of Florida, the child death toll rate continues to climb and officials, along with children’s advocates, are pondering whether a two-fold approach, bringing sheriffs in on child investigations, can help save children’s lives.

Tallahassee, FL – July 31, 2013 – WTVJ NBC 6 – Cluster of Child Deaths Unprecedented and Alarming, Advocates Say Unprecedented and alarming. That’s how child advocates describe the recent cluster of deaths allegedly due to abuse and neglect.

Tallahassee, FL – July 24, 2013 – WFSU – Interim DCF Chief Calls On Staff To Refocus; Child Advocates Say It’s A Start The new interim head of Florida’s child welfare agency is calling on her staff to refocus in the wake of the recent spate of child deaths associated with the agency. But, some child welfare advocates say there’s more work to do.

Homestead, FL – July 22, 2013 – The Miami Herald – Homestead man charged with shaking toddler to death A Homestead man has been charged with shaking his 2-year-old son to death last week — one month after state child welfare administrators gave him custody of the toddler even though he was unemployed, living in a one-bedroom home with eight other children,and had been repeatedly accused of domestic violence.

Miami, FL – May 25, 2013 – Miami Herald – Probe Into Kendall Boy’s Death Uncovers Lie by DCF Investigator Child welfare administrators and prosecutors are looking into allegations that Shani Smith, a child abuse investigator, fudged the substance abuse screening of a Kendall mother who later left her baby to die in a sweltering car. As a result of her fictitious report, child welfare administrators concluded it was not necessary to take any actions to protect 11-month-old Bryan Osceola or his older siblings or provide oversight for his parents. Six months later, Bryan’s mother, Catalina Bruno, drove to her Kendall home and left him behind in the car, along with her purse and a can of beer. By the time anybody asked “where’s Bryan?” the boy had a 109-degree temperature. He was declared dead at the hospital.

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 RoomThe 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 & FamiliesThe 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 MessThe 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.

Central Florida – July 28, 2012 – DCF: Number of Extreme Child Abuse Cases on the RiseTwenty-two-year-old Gavin Sola, of West Melbourne, went before a judge Wednesday afternoon, facing first-degree murder charges of his girlfriend’s 4-month-old child. Last week, 20-year-old Joshua Carter was arrested in Titusville for a similar case. Those cases are part of a new trend WFTV discovered. Department of Children & Families officials said while the number of child abuse cases have remained stable, the number of extreme cases is on the rise. “Multiple injuries, more serious injuries, histories of abuse,” said

Fort Lauderdale, Florida – July 26, 2012 – Sun-Sentinel – State Reviews Deaths at Private-Run Mental Hospital in Broward A Boca Raton firm that has lobbied lawmakers to get control of South Florida prisons is under intense scrutiny after an official investigation found its employees at a state mental hospital in Broward County may have overmedicated patients and failed to alert the state abuse hotline after a patient died in a scalding bathtub.

Tallahassee, Florida – July 24, 2012 – Recession Hurts More Florida Kids – News Service Florida A new report Wednesday shows Florida trailing most other states in the health and education of its children – with an especially low ranking in economic well-being. The effects are harmful and could be long-term – not just for the children but for the state, advocates say. The annual Kids Count report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation ranks Florida 44th in the economic well-being of its children, 38th in their health outcomes and 35th in their educational performance. Florida ranks 38th overall.

Orlando, Florida – July 15, 2012 – Orlando Sentinel – Taariq Cross: Family Wants Answers After Autistic Boy’s Tragic Death Family members of the 7-year-old autistic boy killed after he was run over by two cars in Pine Hills last week continue to struggle with his death. The Florida Department of Children and Families launched an investigation into the death of Taariq Cross, an adventurous boy who communicated only through sign language and was known to dart outside whenever he had the chance.

Miami, Florida – July 14, 2012 – NBC 6 – DCF Protective Investigator Accused of Having Sex With Girl In Foster Care Held Without Bond A Florida Department of Children and Families protective investigator was held without bond Friday on charges of having a sexual relationship with a minor who was in foster care. Prosecutors said in court that Jean Lacroix was a flight risk. He was caught in New York after being denied entry into the Dominican Republic. Lacroix arrived in South Florida Thursday. He faces five counts charges of unlawful sexual activity with a certain minor, a teenager in foster care.

State College, Penn. – July 12, 2012 – The New York Times: Abuse Scandal Inquiry Damns Paterno and Penn State Louis J. Freeh, the former federal judge and director of the F.B.I. who spent the last seven months examining the Sandusky scandal at Penn State, issued a damning conclusion Thursday: The most senior officials at Penn State had shown a “total and consistent disregard” for the welfare of children, had worked together to actively conceal Mr. Sandusky’s assaults, and had done so for one central reason: fear of bad publicity. That publicity, Mr. Freeh said Thursday, would have hurt the nationally ranked football program, Mr. Paterno’s reputation as a coach of high principles, the Penn State “brand” and the university’s ability to raise money as one of the most respected public institutions in the country.

Palm Beach County, Florida – June 29, 2012 –The Palm Beach Post: Sex Abuse Reporting Requirements Taking Effect Nationwide in Wake of Sandusky CaseAs former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky sits in prison, convicted this month on 45 child sex abuse charges, officials in Florida and across the country are drastically changing the way allegations of child abuse are reported and investigated to protect children. In Florida, legislators this year approved what many child advocates consider the toughest mandatory reporting legislation in the country for sexual abuse in universities and other schools.

Miami, Florida – June 29, 2012 – DCF Investigator Had Sex With Girl: Warrant The Department of Children and Families sent a letter of dismissal to a child protective investigator who allegedly had sex with a teenage girl in foster care. Jean LaCroix had been assigned to the teen’s case for a month last fall, but court documents show they had a sexual relationship for months.

Tallahassee, Florida – June 26, 2012 – Public Must Take Stronger Role in Reporting Child AbuseTwo interesting, if unrelated, events are drawing questions from child advocates who perennially are committed to protecting the welfare of children at risk from adult abusers. First, a new law has the Florida Department of Children and Families requiring mandatory reporting of child abuse — not just abuse by parents or caregivers, but by anyone suspected of abuse, neglect or harm, wrote Gainesville child advocate attorney Gloria Fletcher.

Bradenton, Florida – June 26, 2012 – Four Florida Men Arrested for Sexually Preying on Children in Foster CarePolice and prosecutors arrested four alleged pimps Monday morning as part of an ongoing investigation into a ring of human traffickers in Miami-Dade County, Florida, who preyed on abused and neglected children in foster care. The men, police say, were part of an organized conspiracy to lure underage girls into prostitution. The four were charged with conspiracy, racketeering and unlawful sexual activity with a minor.

June 24, 2012 – Daily Beast – Penn State Values: The System That Discourages Making Waves The moral of the Jerry Sandusky saga is this: Pennsylvania State University, as an institution, decided that protecting Joe Paterno’s reputation and winning a few more football games was more important than stopping the ongoing rape of young boys.

– Las Vegas, Nevada – May 5, 2012 – National Center for Youth Law Wins Major Victory for Las Vegas Foster Children

The National Center for Youth Law (NCYL) has won a major victory on behalf of foster children in Clark County (Las Vegas), Nevada. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit overturned a lower court’s dismissal of the foster care reform case brought by NCYL on behalf of Clark County’s abused and neglected children. The Appeals Court ruled that these children have a constitutional right to safety and adequate medical care. The Court also said that the county, and county and state officials, are liable if they fail to ensure that those constitutional rights are protected.

– Tallahassee, Florida – May 5, 2012 – Florida DCF Blog, Social Media to Share Families’ Stories Florida’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) is sharing the stories of families across the state with a new blog and Facebook page. Words from adoptive mother and TV personality Kim Parrish will be one of the first post on the blog. New media also will have custom tabs featuring DCF resources, such as how to apply for benefits and report abuse to the state hotline, that can be automatically installed on any Facebook business page.

– News-Press – Tallahassee, Florida – May 7, 2012 – Florida Department of Children and Families to Use Report-Card System to Monitor Foster Kids Florida DCF is taking steps to reduce the number of youth in foster care who wind up without an education by requiring report cards – not on how the kids are doing in history and English, but on whether they’re in a stable situation that enhances their.

– News-Press – Fort Myers, Florida – May 5, 2012 – Parents Addicted to Pills Leave Kids on DCF Radar Pills are a scourge to Florida kids. The number of children under DCF supervision is at its highest in two years despite a push to keep families out of the system. Prescription painkillers are largely to blame, said child welfare leaders. They have seen addictions to drugs like oxycodone deepen in the past year and numb many residents’ ability to be watchful, nurturing parents. Parents are relapsing and spending money on drugs instead of food and clothes for their children.

– Tallahassee, Florida – May 1, 2012 – Florida DCF celebrates Mental Health Awareness Month Listen to a happy song to release stress. Replace your snack food with healthy “brain” food. Do a crossword puzzle to improve critical thinking. These tips and more are part of the Florida Department of Children and Families celebration of Mental Health Awareness Month in May. Starting May 1, events around the state will help bring awareness to a healthy mind and body and to positive outcomes for those with mental illnesses.

– St. Augustine Record – St. Augustine, Florida – April 13, 2012 – Man Facing Child Sex Charges Ruled Incompetent A man accused of sex crimes against two children won’t go to trial, at least not in the near future. David Lavern Stratton Jr., 36, was placed into the care of the Department of Children and Families on Thursday after a mental health evaluation found him incompetent to stand trial.

– Naked Politics / Miami Herald – Miami, Florida – March 29, 2012 – Scott Expands Role of DCF Secretary to be Head of ‘State Operations’ As if being head of the Department of Children and Families weren’t enough, Gov. Rick Scott today appointed David Wilkins to a new role as Florida’s Chief Operating Officer for Government Operations. According to a statement from the governor’s office, Wilkins “will serve in this role in addition to his role as Secretary of the Department of Children and Families.”

– News Press – Fort Myers, Florida – March 27, 2012 – DCF was Investigating Family of Slain North Fort Myers Infant At the time an 8-week-old baby was allegedly killed by her father in their North Fort Myers home, the state Department of Children and Families was already investigating the family.

– Miami Herald – Miami, Florida – March 7, 2012 – Judge Ends Visits Between Alleged Molester and Daughter, 4 A teenage foster kid at a child welfare office saw in chilling detail what a state social worker did not: A father, during a supervised visit with his daughter, wrapping his hands around the 4-year-old’s neck as he pushed her face toward his groin. “That’s when [the 4-year-old] screamed,” the foster child told an investigator.

– Miami Herald – Miami, Florida – March 3, 2012 – Florida DCF Releases Documents in Child Neglect Case Child welfare officials released hundreds of pages of documents involving the case of a boy who was found wandering the streets, naked and starving. The Department of Children and Families released over 700 pages on Thursday that drew few, if any, conclusions as to why a 9-year-old boy was found malnourished and bruised in the street in January.

– Miami Herald – Miami, Florida – December 30, 2011 – Some of Florida’s most vulnerable citizens have been placed at risk due to a flawed screening system that has allowed hundreds of felons to obtain work in day care centers, assisted living facilities and group homes. “We’ve got to do a much better job than what we’re currently doing,” said George Sheldon, secretary of the state Department of Children and Families, which, along with Agency for Health Care Administration, is responsible for granting exemptions for convicted felons seeking work as caregivers.

– Herald Tribune / Sarasota, FL – September 28, 2009 – Holes in System Let Felons Care For The Most Vulnerable
Disturbing flaws in Florida’s background screening system have put children, seniors and the disabled in the care of convicted felons with records that include rape, child molestation and murder, an investigation by the Sun-Sentinel newspaper has found. Employees of day care centers, assisted living facilities and group homes are required to undergo a background check under state law but can begin work before their screening is complete, the paper is reporting this week.

– The Herald / Miami, FL – September 12, 2009 – Guardian Ad Litem Gives a Voice to Abused Hundreds marched through Bayfront Park Saturday with cutouts representing the 850 children who enter the foster care system everyday in the United States The event was organized by the Voices for Children Foundation.

– Herald-Tribune / Sarasota, FL – September 3, 2009 – Mentors Help Foster Children The always-expanding Next Step program has helped teenagers like Mercades Kennedy, 18, enter adulthood with its mentoring and tutoring services.”It was wonderful,” Kennedy says of the experience transitioning out of foster care. “I couldn’t wait to get my own place and not have people over me trying to make decisions. Mentor groups consist of mental health, legal, financial, education or business professionals who are available as a support system for two years..

– The Orlando Sentinel / Orlando, FL – August 31, 2009 – Doping Up Our Children The state’s Department of Children and Families is under fire again, and rightly so. Recently, a task force issued its final report documenting how weak oversight and lax compliance with guidelines fostered a culture where officials often blindly doled out powerful drugs as chemical pacifiers to help caregivers manage difficult children..

– The News-Press / Fort Myers, FL – August 27, 2009 – Reporter’s Blog: How Do Foster Kids “Make It?” Lynne Roeschlaub, a former foster child from Lee County, doesn’t play the “pity card.” Study after study has shown foster children struggle with poverty and repeat the pattern of abuse and neglect after they leave care at age 18. How do some “make it?” A strong role model to guide them into adulthood and sheer will power seem to be key.

– Financial News & Daily Record / Jacksonville, FL – August 10, 2009 – Guardian ad Litem Thanks Volunteers For Service
Providing children with a voice in court. The Fourth Judicial Circuit Florida Guardian ad Litem program said “Thank You” to volunteers who did just that over the last year with a reception at their office on the second floor of the Duval County Courthouse Annex Building on Bay Street recently. “We are so grateful for those who participate,” said Hilary Creary, supervising attorney for the local Guardian ad Litem program. “This is the least we could do.”

– Orlando Sentinel / Orlando, FL – August 7, 2009 – Despite Austere Budget, Florida Adoptions Grow At age 17, Amber Holley knew that the odds of being adopted were grim. After 11 years in Florida’s foster-care system, living mostly in group homes, she had started telling people she just wanted to be left alone — even if she didn’t really mean it.
But three months ago, after being won over by a compassionate caseworker, Amber became one of a record 3,774 foster kids in the state to be adopted during the past fiscal year.

– The Miami Herald / Miami, FL – July 27, 2009 – Florida to Give Foster Care Workers a $6.3M Upgrade A company giving cellphones and laptops to workers would not normally qualify as news. But this is actually a big deal for caseworkers working with the nonprofit agency Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe, which contracts with the state to oversee foster care and related services for the area. This group was the first in Florida to provide an easy way for caseworkers to keep records of their children on a laptop and on smart phones.

– The Miami Herald / Miami, FL – July 15, 2009 – Don’t Bend the Law When Giving Foster Kids Drugs Gabriel Myers was a 7-year-old boy whose world was collapsing when he hanged himself in a foster home in Margate. He was among 268 children between the ages of 6 and 7 medicated while in state care. A new state study looking at whether these children were treated according to the law points to a total disregard of the law by a majority of case workers and medical professionals making life-and-death decisions. The irony is case workers now are employed by private firms under contract with the state. Weren’t they supposed to do better by Florida’s children than the old system of state workers?

– The Orlando Sentinel / Orlando, FL – July 12, 2009 – More Than 70 Caseworkers Lied About Efforts to Protect Children During the past two years, more than 70 Florida child-welfare workers have been caught falsifying records — lying about their on-the-job efforts to protect children, according to state and county records reviewed by the Orlando Sentinel. As a consequence, the Florida Department of Children and Families temporarily lost track of at least six children, sometimes for months. Fourteen children were left in unsafe homes, the Sentinel found in a review of agency records.

– The Miami Herald / Miami, FL – July 7, 2009 – System Faulted in Margate Boy’s Suicide While in Foster Care Child-welfare doctors and case managers routinely failed to complete legally required treatment plans, share information or properly document the prescribing of powerful psychiatric drugs for children, according to a new state study of 6- and 7-year-olds medicated in state care.

– The Buzz: News From The St. Pete Times Staff / St. Petersburg, FL – July 7, 2009 – Florida DCF’s Child Drugging Problems Child welfare doctors and case managers routinely failed to complete legally required treatment plans, share information or properly document the prescribing of powerful psychiatric drugs for children, according to a new state study of 6- and 7-year-olds medicated in state care.

– The Miami Herald / Miami, FL – July 2, 2009 – Aged-Out Foster Child Faces Possible Homelessness For Selim Isimer’s next birthday, his parent — the state of Florida — plans to kick him out of the house. Being shown the door on your 18th birthday would prove daunting for any foster kid. Twenty percent end up homeless without public assistance. For Selim, it would be disastrous: He has autism and mental retardation.

– South Florida Sun-Sentinel / Fort Lauderdale, FL – July 1, 2009 – Florida Department of Children & Families Names New Southeast Regional Director The state Department of Children & Families didn’t have to look far to find a new southeast regional director, announcing Wednesday that its top official in Palm Beach County will be taking over the job. Perry Borman, 45, will oversee DCF administrative and program offices in both Broward and Palm Beach counties, replacing Jack Moss. Moss retired Tuesday after eight years as DCF’s Broward County administrator, the last two of which he also served as the region’s director.

– The Sun-Sentinel / Fort Lauderdale, FL – June 26, 2009 – Once Troubled ChildNet Foster Care Agency Signs 5-Year Contract With Broward The private nonprofit agency running Broward County’s child welfare system in April 2007 seemed on the verge of chaos — FBI agents raided its main office, the state threatened to pull funding and the group’s board fired the chief executive officer. On Thursday, the group’s president signed a $333 million contract with the state Department of Children & Families to continue managing Broward foster care for the next five years.

– The Miami Herald / Miami, FL – June 19, 2009 – Kids Need Care, Not Pills, Ex-Foster Children Tell Panel A state group looking at the suicide of a young foster child met Thursday to discuss ways to improve care and listened to adults who said they were overmedicated in the foster-care system.

– MyFox Tampa Bay / Tampa, FL – June 19, 2009 – New Home Offers Hope to Foster Teens With every shovel of dirt, volunteers work hard to finish the first case managed, aging out foster care facility in the state. Right now, foster care children turning 18 in Florida, age out of the system and start to live independently for the first time. In some cases those teens fall into trouble.

– CBS 4 / Miami, FL – June 18, 2009 – Florida Officials Struggle To Reform Foster System As state officials wade through the systemwide failures that led to the suicide of 7-year-old foster child Gabriel Myers in April, two issues come up repeatedly: the alarming use of psychotropic medications and the inability of doctors, foster parents and case workers to track problems with such powerful medications.

– St. Petersburg Times / St. Petersburg, FL – June 7, 2009 – Foster Care Failures Two disturbing facts about the Florida foster care system have emerged following the suicide of a 7-year-old boy on psychiatric drugs. First is the extraordinary prescription rate for children under the supervision of the Department of Children and Families. Second is the alarming revelation that a 2005 law aimed at tackling that problem has been repeatedly and systemically ignored.

– Daytona Beach news-Journal / Daytona Beach, FL – May 29, 2009 – More Florida Foster Kids on Meds More local foster children are on psychotropic medications than the state average, according to a state review done following the suicide of a 7-year-old foster child in South Florida. The state Department of Children & Families released a report Thursday showing 2,669 foster children 17 and younger are on one or more psychotropic drugs, including 127 in Volusia, Flagler and Putnam counties.

– The Sun-Sentinel / Fort Lauderdale, FL – May 29, 2009 – State survey: Almost 1 Florida Foster Child in 6 Being Given Drugs Almost one of every six foster children on mood-altering drugs in Florida is being given the medications without the court order or parental consent mandated by law, according to a study released Thursday by the state Department of Children & Families. DCF Secretary George Sheldon acknowledged there was “no rational basis” for 433 foster children in Florida being administered the psychotropic drugs without the required permission, as the study found.

– Sun-Sentinel.com / Fort Lauderdale, Florida – May 23, 2009 – Child Welfare Case Shows Oversight Lax Gabriel Myers came into this world shortly after his mother tested positive for Benzodiazepine, a powerful tranquilizer while she was in labor. Seven years later he was dead, his body found hanging in a bathroom of his foster-care home in Margate.

– The Miami Herald / Miami, Florida – May 22, 2009 – Florida Child Abuse is More Severe in Bad Times Every time a child dies from abuse in Florida, Department of Children and Families Secretary George Sheldon receives an e-mail on his Blackberry. One of those messages came last month during Shaken Baby Syndrome Awareness Week, letting Sheldon know that an 8-month-old Bradenton girl died after her mother’s boyfriend shook her vigorously several times. It’s a situation Sheldon says has become more common as the economy gets worse.
– The Miami Herald / Miami, FL – May 20, 2009 – Lawsuit Says Too Many Psychiatric Drugs Killed Boy The mother of a disabled boy who died in 2007 is claiming in a lawsuit the boy was overdosed by a cocktail of psychiatric drugs, including two powerful anti-psychotics. Martha Quesada, the mother of 12-year-old Denis Maltez, filed a wrongful death and medical malpractice lawsuit Monday in Miami-Dade circuit court, claiming Denis’ psychiatrist, Dr. Steven L. Kaplan, and the now-shuttered Rainbow Ranch group home overmedicated Denis and failed to properly monitor his condition.

– Examiner.com / Tampa Bay, FL – May 18, 2009 – Court Rules That Florida Must Recognize Gay / Lesbian Adoptions Last week’s decision by a Florida judge requires Florida to recognize the legality of gay and lesbian adoptions finalized in other states, regardless of whether or not Florida itself allows them.

– NewsPress.com / Fort Myers, FL – May 18, 2009 – Editorial: Improvement Still DCF Goal A recent statewide quality assurance report delivered sobering news for the Department of Children and Families’ Southwest Florida office – Circuit 20 – ranking this area dead last in overall performance.

– The Miami Herald / Miami, FL – May 13, 2009 – Lawmaker Wants Investigation of Psychiatrist Who Prescribed Drugs to 7-Year-Old Who Killed Self A powerful Florida lawmaker has asked two state agencies to investigate a Broward County psychiatrist who had been treating Gabriel Myers, a 7-year-old who hanged himself last month in the bathroom of his Margate foster home.

– The Miami Herald / Miami, FL – April 29, 2009 – DCF Hosting Summer Camps For Foster Children The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) is hosting its second annual “Camp Sib,” a five-day camp experience for separated siblings in out-of-home foster care. During the week of May 22-29, 2009, about 100 Florida foster children, ages 6-17, will spend quality time together, reunite with their siblings and enjoy fun activities at Camp La-No-Che, a Boy Scout camp, in Paisley, Florida.

– The Miami Herald / Miami, FL – May 20, 2009 – Lawsuit Says Too Many Psychiatric Drugs Killed Boy The mother of a disabled boy who died in 2007 is claiming in a lawsuit the boy was overdosed by a cocktail of psychiatric drugs, including two powerful anti-psychotics. Martha Quesada, the mother of 12-year-old Denis Maltez, filed a wrongful death and medical malpractice lawsuit Monday in Miami-Dade circuit court, claiming Denis’ psychiatrist, Dr. Steven L. Kaplan, and the now-shuttered Rainbow Ranch group home overmedicated Denis and failed to properly monitor his condition.

– Examiner.com / Tampa Bay, FL – May 18, 2009 – Court Rules That Florida Must Recognize Gay / Lesbian Adoptions Last week’s decision by a Florida judge requires Florida to recognize the legality of gay and lesbian adoptions finalized in other states, regardless of whether or not Florida itself allows them.

– NewsPress.com / Fort Myers, FL – May 18, 2009 – Editorial: Improvement Still DCF Goal A recent statewide quality assurance report delivered sobering news for the Department of Children and Families’ Southwest Florida office – Circuit 20 – ranking this area dead last in overall performance.

– The Miami Herald / Miami, FL – May 13, 2009 – Lawmaker Wants Investigation of Psychiatrist Who Prescribed Drugs to 7-Year-Old Who Killed Self A powerful Florida lawmaker has asked two state agencies to investigate a Broward County psychiatrist who had been treating Gabriel Myers, a 7-year-old who hanged himself last month in the bathroom of his Margate foster home.

– Tampabay.com – St. Petersburg, FL, – May 12, 2009 – DCF Must Do Better A little boy in foster care is dead by his own hand, but a poorly functioning child welfare system also is responsible.

– The Ledger / Lakeland, FL – May 10, 2009 – Boy’s Suicide Puts Focus On DCF Drug Oversight Last month, Gabriel Myers, age 7, died by suicide in his South Florida foster home, hanging himself on an extendable shower hose. The boy, 4 feet tall and 67 pounds, was taking two powerful psychiatric drugs at the time of his death, neither of which had been approved by his parent or a judge, as required by state law. George Sheldon, head of the agency charged with Gabriel’s care, said Friday he expects the tragedy to lead to major reforms in the state’s foster care system.

– MiamiHerald.com / Miami, FL – May 8, 2009 – Drug Limits Skirted For Foster Kids In the aftermath of a little boy’s death, child welfare chiefs acknowledge they can do better at complying with a law aimed at curbing psychiatric-drug use.

– The Florida News-Journal Online – May 2, 2009 – Bill Gives Foster Kids Access Former and current foster children could soon get access to their own records to help with their medical histories, Social Security cards, birth certificates and other information after legislation passed Friday. The bill passed the House on Friday and Senate on Thursday and will head for final approval by the governor.

– The Orlando Sentinel / Orlando, FL – May 2, 2009 – Foster-Care Grads Still Need Help Barely out of pigtails, Suzi McQueen already was living life on the edge. At 10, child-welfare caseworkers removed McQueen and her siblings from an abusive mother, scattering the kids. After several years in a group home, she hopscotched between Central Florida foster homes. Along the way, McQueen missed big chunks of school, bore a child and mourned the baby’s death a few short weeks later. An already wobbly life derailed when she turned 18.

– The Miami Herald / Miami, FL – April 30, 2009 – State probes apparent suicide of foster child, 7 Florida’s top child-welfare administrator has appointed a work group to look into the April 16 death of Gabriel Myers, the 7-year-old boy who took his own life at a Broward County foster home after a stormy nine-month odyssey through the state foster-care system.

– CBS 4 / Miami, FL – April 30, 2009 – I-Team: DCF Probes Drugs Prescribed To Foster Kids The Department of Children and Families chief apparently has found it troubling; he’s ordered an internal review of what drugs Florida foster care children receive.

– The New York Times / New York, NY – April 30, 2009 – Suit Contends City Failed to Prevent Adoption Fraud New York City violated the rights of 10 disabled children who were adopted more than a decade ago by a former Queens woman who abused them and used government subsidies meant for their care to support a lavish lifestyle, according to a federal lawsuit filed on Wednesday.

– The Miami Herald / Miami, FL – April 29, 2009 – Child’s death was anything but a suicide Calling the death of Gabriel Myers a ”suicide” lets his killers off the hook. The 7-year-old was propelled by a vast conspiracy of abuse and neglect and malpractice. The boy only finished the job on April 15, when he locked himself in the bathroom of his Margate foster home and coiled a shower hose around his neck.

– The Miami Herald / Miami, FL – April, 27, 2009 – 7-year-old Who Killed Himself Made Death Threats Three weeks before his death, 7-year-old Gabriel Myers made a chilling threat: He said he wanted to kill himself — and another foster child in his Margate home.

– USAToday – April 27, 2009 – Would-be Parents Turn to Foster Kids as Adoption Costs Rise The recession has pushed the high cost of private adoptions out of reach for many prospective parents, prompting more of them to look into adopting hard-to-place foster children.

– St. Petersburg Times / St. Petersburg, FL – April 25, 2009 – At DCF, A Refreshing Counterpoint to Government As Usual The indictment of former House Speaker Ray Sansom and scathing grand jury report on secrecy in the Legislature casts a very troubling shadow over the state Capitol these days. For an uplifting counterpoint, look no further than George Sheldon, secretary of the Department of Children and Families, long one of the most difficult jobs in state government.

– Orlando Sentinel / Orlando, FL – April 16, 2009 – Florida legislators propose fees that would hit your wallet hard The state’s budget crisis is about to hit Floridians where it really hurts: their wallets. Facing an unprecedented economic crisis, legislators are proposing to balance the state’s $65 billion budget with hefty fees that will touch almost everyone.

– Fort Myers News Press / Fort Myers, FL – March 24, 2009 – Help Kids, Let Gays Adopt Some gay couples in Florida have successfully parented foster children for years, with the blessing of the state. Yet despite the desperate need for adoptive homes in Florida, gays still cannot be full adoptive parents because of a 30-year-old ban grounded in ignorance and prejudice. Once again, some legislators are trying to lift the ban on gay adoption..

– Sun-Sentinel / Fort Lauderdale, FL – March 21, 2009 – Foster Kids Need a Chance at Open Government Too You’d think a teenager in the state’s foster-care system would be able to get a copy of his or her records, those important documents needed to obtain a driver’s license, apartment or job. Not so in Florida, and the irony is striking. Access to foster care records is legal, but extremely difficult. One literally needs a judge’s order to make the information public.

– Palm Beach Post / Palm Beach, FL – March 18, 2009 – Give Florida Foster Kids Their Past Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, a member of the Commission on Open Government, has filed a bill that would clarify state law to ensure that foster children get the records – free – and establish an appeals process when they don’t. The Florida Department of Children and Families supports the legislation.

– Palm Beach Post / Palm Beach, FL – March 14, 2009 – Government secrecy can prevent Florida foster children from graduating high school, preserving past. A commission appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist has urged the legislature to clarify the law and allow former foster children access to their files free of charge. The recommendation would require changes or at least tweaks to state law.

– Miami Herald / Miami, FL – March 14, 2009 – For Bob Butterworth, openness is a way of life To every office and agency he’s worked for, Bob Butterworth has brought a dedication to the idea that more gets done with transparency, observers say…Longtime observers of Florida government say Butterworth has always worked that way, first as a Broward County prosecutor, and later as head of the Florida Highway Patrol, mayor of Sunrise and state attorney general. He is credited with being the first DCF head in recent memory to open the windows to sunshine.

– Miami Herald / Miami, FL – March 2, 2009 – Welfare workers warn not reporting child abuse can be deadly Priscila Amador may have kept a deadly secret….Child welfare authorities say the Amador family’s tragedy should serve as a dire warning: Secrets can kill. Failing to report a reasonable suspicion of abuse, is not merely misguided. It’s against the law in Florida.

– News-Press / Fort Myers, FL – Feb. 22, 2009 – Foster child success story ends with military appointment People in Southwest Florida have foster-child phenom and military trainee Josh Kelchner to be proud of. Wrote one columnist, if the 19-year-old man doesn’t bring a smile to your face, “then you may never smile again.”

– Sun-Sentinel / Fort Lauderdale, FL – Feb. 11, 2009 – Florida’s Children First recognizes ‘Friends’ Florida’s Children First (FCF), the statewide legal advocacy organization focused on protecting the legal rights of at-risk children, especially children in foster care, will honor Robert “Bob” Butterworth and foster care graduate Mez Pierre at its upcoming Child Advocate Awards and Reception.

– Palm Beach Post / West Palm Beach, FL – Feb. 7, 2009 – New System Helps DCF Follow Up With Troubled Families A month after being cleared by the Department of Children and Families as safe, 21-month-old Darius Clark was found dead of an accidental drug overdose. Palm Beach County’s DCF Circuit Administrator Perry Borman launched an effort to create what became an innovative online system that allows investigators to communicate with drug treatment programs and track in real time the parents they refer there.

– First Coast News / Jacksonville, FL – Feb. 5, 2009 – New System Helps DCF Follow Up With Troubled Families – Several men, once residents at a Florida reform school, have filed a lawsuit against several state agencies, claiming they were tortured and raped during their stay there. The suit names as defendants the DCF, and the departments of Agriculture, Juvenile Justice and Corrections, as well as the alleged assailants. Gov. Charlie Crist has asked for an investigation.

– Times Union – Feb. 3, 2009 – ‘ State to Pay $2.9 Million in Nassau Foster Care Abuse Case.’ Three children sexually assaulted in a foster home a decade ago sued the Florida DCF. Conceding a settlement should have been reached long ago, the state has agreed to pay $2.9 million to three children sexually abused by older kids in a Nassau County foster home.

– Daily Business Review – Feb. 3, 2009 – ” Fla. Bar Joins Fight Against State’s Ban on Adoptions by Gays.” The Florida Bar is coming out in a big way — for gay adoption. The Bar’s board of governors voted unanimously to file an amicus brief before the 3rd District Court of Appeal supporting a Miami-Dade circuit judge’s ruling that declared unconstitutional the state’s ban on gay adoptions.

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– Tampabay.com – St. Petersburg, FL, – May 12, 2009 – <strong><a href=” http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/editorials/article1000069.ece” target=”_blank”> DCF Must Do Better </a></strong> A little boy in foster care is dead by his own hand, but a poorly functioning child welfare system also is responsible.
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– The Ledger / Lakeland, FL – May 10, 2009 – <strong><a href=” http://www.theledger.com/article/20090510/NEWS/905119988/1374?Title=Boy-s-Suicide-Puts-Focus-On-DCF-Drug-Oversight” target=”_blank”> Boy’s Suicide Puts Focus On DCF Drug Oversight </a></strong> Last month, Gabriel Myers, age 7, died by suicide in his South Florida foster home, hanging himself on an extendable shower hose.  The boy, 4 feet tall and 67 pounds, was taking two powerful psychiatric drugs at the time of his death, neither of which had been approved by his parent or a judge, as required by state law. George Sheldon, head of the agency charged with Gabriel’s care, said Friday he expects the tragedy to lead to major reforms in the state’s foster care system.
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– MiamiHerald.com / Miami, FL – May 8, 2009 – <strong><a href=” http://www.miamiherald.com/news/miami-dade/story/1039522.html” target=”_blank”> Drug Limits Skirted For Foster Kids </a></strong> In the aftermath of a little boy’s death, child welfare chiefs acknowledge they can do better at complying with a law aimed at curbing psychiatric-drug use.
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– The Florida News-Journal Online – May 2, 2009 – <strong><a href=” http://www.news-journalonline.com/NewsJournalOnline/News/Politics/Florida/floPOL02050209.htm ” target=”_blank”> Bill Gives Foster Kids Access </a></strong> Former and current foster children could soon get access to their own records to help with their medical histories, Social Security cards, birth certificates and other information after legislation passed Friday. The bill passed the House on Friday and Senate on Thursday and will head for final approval by the governor.
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– The Orlando Sentinel / Orlando, FL – May 2, 2009 – <strong><a href=” http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/orl-darryl-owens-column-050209,0,2166354.column” target=”_blank”> Foster-Care Grads Still Need Help</a></strong> Barely out of pigtails, Suzi McQueen already was living life on the edge. At 10, child-welfare caseworkers removed McQueen and her siblings from an abusive mother, scattering the kids. After several years in a group home, she hopscotched between Central Florida foster homes. Along the way, McQueen missed big chunks of school, bore a child and mourned the baby’s death a few short weeks later. An already wobbly life derailed when she turned 18.
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– The Miami Herald / Miami, FL – April 30, 2009 – <strong><a href=” http://www.miamiherald.com/news/southflorida/story/1024800.html ” target=”_blank”> State probes apparent suicide of foster child, 7 </a></strong> Florida’s top child-welfare administrator has appointed a work group to look into the April 16 death of Gabriel Myers, the 7-year-old boy who took his own life at a Broward County foster home after a stormy nine-month odyssey through the state foster-care system.
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– CBS 4 / Miami, FL – April 30, 2009 – <strong><a href=” http://cbs4.com/local/iteam.suicide.dcf.2.998614.html” target=”_blank”> I-Team: DCF Probes Drugs Prescribed To Foster Kids </a></strong> The Department of Children and Families chief apparently has found it troubling; he’s ordered an internal review of what drugs Florida foster
care children receive.
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– The New York Times / New York, NY – April 30, 2009 – <strong><a href=” http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/30/nyregion/30foster.html?_r=2&ref=todayspaper ” target=”_blank”> Suit Contends City Failed to Prevent Adoption Fraud
</a></strong> New York City violated the rights of 10 disabled children who were adopted more than a decade ago by a former Queens woman who abused them and used government subsidies meant for their care to support a lavish lifestyle, according to a federal lawsuit filed on Wednesday.
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– The Miami Herald / Miami, FL – April 29, 2009 – <strong><a href=” http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/columnists/story/1021038.html” target=”_blank”> Child’s death was anything but a suicide </a></strong> Calling the death of Gabriel Myers a ”suicide” lets his killers off the hook. The 7-year-old was propelled by a vast conspiracy of abuse and neglect and malpractice. The boy only finished the job on April 15, when he locked himself in the bathroom of his Margate foster home and coiled a shower hose around his neck.
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– The Miami Herald / Miami, FL – April, 27, 2009 – <strong><a href=” http://www.miamiherald.com/news/broward/story/1013139.html” target=”_blank”> 7-year-old Who Killed Himself Made Death Threats </a></strong> Three weeks before his death, 7-year-old Gabriel Myers made a chilling threat: He said he wanted to kill himself — and another foster child in his Margate home.
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– USAToday – April 27, 2009 – <strong><a href=” http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-04-26-adoption_N.htm” target=”_blank”> Would-be Parents Turn to Foster Kids as Adoption Costs Rise </a></strong> The recession has pushed the high cost of private adoptions out of reach for many prospective parents, prompting more of them to look into adopting hard-to-place foster children.
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