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Archive for February, 2011

Florida Columnist Asks: Who Remembers the Ghosts of Abused Kids?

In the aftermath of the tragic death of Miami adopted 10-year-old Nubia Barahona and the critical injuries to her brother, Victor — and questions raised for the Florida Department of Children and Families, Miami Herald columnist Fred Grimm asks the compelling question: Who Remembers Ghosts of Abused Kids?

Grimm writes… Nothing’s so ephemeral as the community anger over the cruel life and grisly death of Nubia Barahona. The ghosts of too many other foster kids can testify that the uproar over mistreated and murdered children is as fleeting as smoke. Reports will be forgotten. Reforms will be inadequate. Budgets for the care of foster children will shrink. Caseworkers will be overwhelmed. Bureaucracies will flounder. And Florida will surely suffer outrage next year. Or the year after.

Little Nubia, 10, will simply fade from public consciousness, just another kid saved by the state from a drug-addled, wreck of a mother only to be deposited into circumstances that led to abuse, misery, neglect and an unspeakable death. Read the entire column here.

Florida DCF Review Panel: Changes Needed to Protect Children’s Lives

February 26th, 2011   No Comments   Abuse

A panel created to review the tragic death of Miami adopted child Nubia Barahona and the critical injuries of her twin brother, Victor, has raised serious questions for the Florida Department of Children and Families. Its findings: Changes are required to ensure greater protection of every child under state care.

According to the Miami Herald, “facts leading up to Nubia Barahona’s death and Victor Barahona’s injuries — including whether investigators, guardians and licensing officials followed state-mandated procedures and used “common sense” to guarantee that the children were safe — need to be analyzed before any recommendations are made, panel members said.”

“We are just starting the process, and I don’t have any judgment yet,” said David Lawrence, former publisher of The Miami Herald, who was named to the panel by DCF Secretary David Wilkins. Other panelists include Bobby Martinez and James Sewell. “The only thing that I know is that a child suffered and died. What do we do about it?”

Group to Review Department of Children and Families’, System’s Handling of Twins’ Case

A high-profile panel of three experts, including two involved with past child death cases, will investigate how the Department of Children and Families and others handled circumstances leading up to the Feb. 14 discovery of 10-year-old Victor Barahona, covered in acid, and his twin sister Nubia Barahona’s decomposed body in the bed of their father’s pickup truck.

“Common sense approaches to suspicious behavior, better pay and training for child welfare investigators, and improved communications with law enforcement were some of the ideas discussed Friday when the panel met to open their investigation into what went wrong with the state’s efforts to protect” the twins from alleged abuse by their adoptive parents, the Miami Herald wrote. Read the entire story here.

Florida’s Children First calls for full transparency in Barahona investigation by DCF

Florida’s Children First issued a statement yesterday which called on DCF to provide full transparency in its Barahona investigation, to be sure to include a former foster child on the review team, and to continue the legacy of the Butterworth-Sheldon administration of transparency and improving our state’s child protection system.

Read entire story here

Florida Department of Children and Families Had Warnings During Abused Girl’s Life

February 22nd, 2011   No Comments   Abuse

Nubia Docter, the 10-year-old girl found dead in the back of her adoptive father’s pickup truck this month, was days old when she first came to the attention of the Florida Department of Children and Families. Now, eight reports later, advocates wonder how her story was overlooked.

Some 10 years later, after what amounted to more than a half-dozen investigations into her troubled life, she and her twin brother, Victor, are at the center of another horrific abuse case. Nubia’s body was found burned and decomposed in the flatbed of a pickup truck.

DCF officials had fielded up to four reports regarding abuse and neglect by adoptive parents Jorge and Carmen Barahona. Each report was dismissed. Read the entire story here.

Howard Talenfeld Appeared on CNN to Discuss Red Flags Missed by DCF

News Story: Failed DCF Response to ‘Cry for Help’ Leaves Advocates, Attorneys Angered in Abuse Case

February 18th, 2011   No Comments   Abuse

Less than a week after the 7-year-old adoptive sibling’s tale resulted in a call to a Florida Department of Children and Families abuse hotline — which itself resulted in a possible missed chance to save another child’s life — advocates are asking “Why?”

“A cry for help that is so significant and so loud that we need answers as to why,” asked Howard Talenfeld, a prominent children’s rights attorney and president of statewide advocacy group Florida’s Children First.

Advocates, Attorneys: Red Flags Missed by DCF Amid Alleged Abuse of Adopted Boy Doused in Chemicals, Sister Found Dead

February 16th, 2011   No Comments   Abuse, Court Cases

The adopted son was sent to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s burn unit, the sister was dead, the adoptive father in custody and the adoptive mother facing the ire of a dependency judge — all while child welfare advocates questioned how warning signs and calls to the Department of Children and Families were missed or overlooked in the horrifying case of Jorge and Carmen Barahona and their adopted children.


According to WSVN Miami, Jorge Barahona confessed to police he tried to kill himself and his 10-year-old son while the body of the boy’s twin sister lay in his pickup truck’s bed.

Two days after the discovery of the chemical-filled truck on Monday, the cause of the girl’s of death remains a mystery. But as tales of abuse — being duct-taped or forced to stand in garbage bins — began to unfold, the opinions of advocates was crystal clear: Red flags and warning signs — and the system in place to act on them — failed to respond quickly and thoroughly enough.

“Those are the kinds of allegations that need to be addressed within…hours,” said Howard Talenfeld, the president of Florida’s Children First. Talenfeld said the red flags should have caused DCF to act immediately when first heard on Thursday, not Friday or after the weekend.

Read the WSVN story here. Read a story from The Miami Herald here.

Florida Child Advocates Shocked as Adopted Twin Found Dead in Pickup Truck, Others Removed by Department of Children & Families

Shock and horror gripped Florida child advocates Monday following the death of a 10-year-old adopted girl — who only a week before had been the subject of a call to the Department of Children and Families abuse hotline warning of possible abuse of the girl and her twin brother.

According to the Miami Herald, DCF took into custody two other children who were adopted by Jorge L. Barahona, the twins’ adoptive father. Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman has asked that the children be placed back into foster care.

As of late Tuesday, Barahona was charged with aggravated child abuse. More charges are expected, police spokesman Chase Scott said. Meanwhile, child welfare administrators released scant details. “We are in the preliminary stages of a very tragic and extremely complex investigation,” said Mark Riordan, a DCF spokesman. “We are working side-by-side with law enforcement in two jurisdictions, and protective investigators in two jurisdictions….our primary concern is the safety of these children.”

Read the entire story here.

Florida Gov. Scott: Department of Children & Families Does ‘Good Work’; Cuts Still Loom

Florida’s child and foster care advocates, guardians and attorneys who work to prevent abuse of the state’s most vulnerable citizens were concerned when Gov. Rick Scott’s budget included deep cuts to the Department of Children and Families. During a visit to the agency this week, he lauded its work. Advocates remain hopeful for future spending.

The Governor visited DCF employees on Valentine’s Day. touring the agency and discussing the “thankless job” they perform. This came a week after he proposed cuts many DCF programs.

According to WCTV, Scott spoke with employees – some of whose jobs may be targeted – under a handmade “Welcome Governor Scott” banner. He acknowledged the effort of the people and agency that work with broken homes, abused children, and other social ills — many times which are exacerbated by tough economic times.

“Almost every family in this country deals with some of the issues you deal with everyday,” Scott said, according to the news report. “There is almost nobody that is unscathed, whether it’s drug abuse, substance abuse, child abuse.”

That said, his mission of cutting state government down to a proper size to get spending under control and create private sector jobs remains, Scott warned. Read the entire story here.

Florida DCF Alleges Abuse of Foster, Day Care Kids, Faces Budget Cuts

The Florida Department of Children and Families found itself in the news this week. Stories included an investigation of foster child’s serious injuries, the DCF-ordered closure of an illegal day care linked to child sex acts, and concern over Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed deep budget cuts to the agency created to protect the state’s most vulnerable citizens.

Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed budget lays off 1,849 Department of Children and Families employees and slices $278 million out of the agency that oversees homelessness and health care; substance abuse, domestic violence and mental health. Read a Tampa Tribune article here.

Meanwhile, DCF is investigating the fractured skull of an 11-month-old Fort Lauderdale foster child the same week as the agency ordered the closure of an illegal day care center where a vice president with the center faces two counts of lewd and lascivious molestation and showing obscene material to a minor.

DCF Forces Florida Man in Molestation Case to Close Day Care; Couple Ran Unlicensed Center

The Florida Department of Children and Families has ordered a man accused of inappropriately touching a 3-year-old girl and watching pornographic movies with her to shut down his unlicensed day care.

According to WKMG TV in Orlando, Royce Broady was arrested Feb. 3 after the girl’s mother and grandmother called Orange County deputies. Deputies said the 3-year-old girl told them her baby sitter’s husband, Broady, touched her before she got into a shower.

DCF said Broady and his wife were operating a day care in their Apopka home on Rundleway Court without a valid license or registration. In a letter sent Tuesday, DCF ordered the couple to “cease and desist all childcare operations immediately.” DCF said the couple was caring for at least 13 children at their home.

Read the entire article here.