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Though Renewed, ChildNet Must Reduce Re-Abuse of Kids in System

June 27th, 2009   No Comments   Abuse, Foster Care

Once troubled ChildNet foster care agency signs 5-year contract with Broward

By Jon Burstein: South Florida Sun-Sentinel

The private nonprofit agency running Broward County’s child welfare system 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. All of those woes engulfed ChildNet within a matter of hours April 13, 2007 — a day dubbed “Black Friday” by some local child welfare advocates.

On Thursday, the same Fort Lauderdale building where FBI agents once draped crime scene tape was the scene of another significant day in ChildNet’s history, this time a happy one. 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.

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Howard Talenfeld, president of the advocacy group Florida’s Children First, commended current ChildNet President and CEO Emilio Benitez’s efforts in improving child welfare services, but said he’s still seeing a disturbing trend of children who after entering the ChildNet system are placed in situations where they are abused again.

In addition, it would have been unusual for another company to be chosen to take over ChildNet’s contract, Talenfeld said.

“The nature of the system is structured in such a way that it’s virtually impossible for a new agency to come in and compete with the holder of an existing contract,” he said.

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