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Questions About Florida Department of Children and Families Surround Murder Trial of Caretaker of Foster Child Rilya Wilson

Child advocates and child welfare attorneys are watching closely as a trial sparked by the disappearance of a young girl gets started. In the balance hangs how the state tracks youths – and how lawsuits, damages and personal injury stemming from children being physically abused or sexually abused, neglected or the subject of wrongful death may hold the state accountable.

As the murder trial starts for Geralyn Graham – the caretaker for foster child Rilya Wilson, who was last seen alive more than a decade ago while under the supposed watch of the Florida Department of Children and Families – many questions remain.

Rilya’s body has never been found. It had been more than a year since a state worker last saw the child. She’s long since been presumed dead. But the impact of this little girl has been dramatic upon Florida DCF, its leadership and the way kids under its watch are actually watched, documented and protected.

DCF went through an administrative house cleaning after news of Rilya’s disappearance emerged. Hearings were held. DCF employees were fired; the top administrator in Miami resigned and the DCF secretary left. A report was issued. The Florida Legislature got involved.

Advocates demanded transparency and accountability from the organization. Maybe this case will help deliver both. Read a Miami Herald article on the case here.

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