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Archive for the ‘Department of Children & Families (DCF)’ Category

Florida Today: Police investigation: DCF alerted at least 6 times before mother charged with manslaughter of infant son

As reported by Florida Today, a police investigation revealed the state Department of Children and Family Services had been called at least six times regarding abuse allegations in the case of a mother who now faces a charge of manslaughter in connection to the death of her infant son.

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WTSP: Pinellas sheriff will announce criminal investigation of lead child welfare agency

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri will announce a criminal investigation Thursday into Eckerd Connects Community Alternatives.

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Tampa Bay Times: Eckerd Connects loses child welfare contract in Pinellas, Pasco

DCF terminates Eckerd Connect contract because of too many child deaths and for placing children in dangerous, risky and abusive placements.

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Florida DCF confirmed flaws with the handling of child abuse complaints concerning foster parents following USA TODAY story

Several tragic cases of Justice for Kids Partner Stacie Schmerling were recently featured in USA Today concerning the failures of the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to investigate and respond to credible complaints against foster care providers to ensure children are safe.

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Another Death of a Child Known to DCF

On November 6, 2020, Florida lost another child that had been repeatedly involved with the Department of Children and Families (DCF). 22-month-old Rashid Bryant was pronounced dead at Miami Jackson North Medical Center. The cause? Complications of acute and chronic blunt force injuries, attributable to “parental neglect,” according to the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner. Read more from the Miami Herald.

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Current Florida policy leaves hundreds of foster children without Medicaid coverage

Until recently, the state of Florida has continued to abandon foster children who had already been abused and neglected, even after they left state care, by improperly removing 1,730 former foster children from Medicaid. Former foster children, under federal law, remain Medicaid eligible until age 26. However, a current Florida policy requires all former foster children to reapply for Medicaid at age 22, leaving hundreds of young adults without coverage.

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Father Known to DCF Who Abused, Neglected and Starved Toddler to Death Takes Plea, Gets 20-year Sentence

Five months after his wife, Kristen Meyer, was sentenced to 23 years in prison for the death of their infant daughter, Alejandro Aleman pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter of a child and was sentenced to 20 years in prison, as reported by CBS 12.

This issue arises from terrible circumstances that took place in Palm Beach County back in 2016.  Alejandro and his wife had 10 children at the time and kept them all in “deplorable” living conditions.  Investigators discovered a home with mildew, insects, and feces smeared on the walls.  The victim, Tayla, was merely 7 pounds at the time of her death when she was 13 months old.  Tayla was severely malnourished and was infected with E. coli, influenza, and pneumonia at the time of her death.

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Foster Kids Starved, Beaten and Sexually Abused, Reports Show Few Caregivers are Punished

A new USA Today article highlights daunting details regarding the systemic issues in Florida’s child welfare system.  In the last five years, there have been nearly 5,000 calls to the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) abuse hotline from various concerned members of the community.  These calls come from teachers, healthcare professionals, day care workers, neighbors, and more.  The complaints often warn of child abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, abandonment, etc.  The number of foster care complaints filed against foster parents, group homes, and guardians rose by roughly 54% over the past five years.  There is a direct correlation between the surge in referrals and 2014 legislation that made it easier to seize children from their parents to place them in state care.  A consequence of the changes in the law includes having more children in need of foster care with no real place to send them.

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DCF Florida’s Chief Inspector General defends investigation into nonprofit executive pay

Florida private social welfare agencies charged with caring for abused, neglected, and disabled children are under attack after Florida’s Chief Inspector General for the Florida Department of Children & Families (DCF) issued a preliminary report suggesting that their executives were being compensated well above the limits allowed by state law. Many of the executives had salaries well into six figures. There is a concern that federal and state appropriations are padding their executives pockets instead of having the funds reach the children they are supposed to serve.

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After years of ignoring red flags, DCF secretary finally recognizes department’s failures in stopping child sexual abuse

After years of protestation by families, children, and advocacy groups that sexual abuse is rampant in state foster homes, DCF secretary Chad Poppell recognizes DCF’s failure in stopping children placed in state-licensed foster care from being sexually abused.

The Miami Herald recently disclosed that during this past year, ninety-two children in Florida reported being sexually abused by state-licensed foster parents. However, only six allegations of sexual abuse were verified by the state, leaving eighty-six children left alone in the dark, many forced to remain with their alleged abusers.

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Fla Lawmakers Debate Continuing Child Protection System Issues

A recent series of articles in USA Today again indicted Florida’ s failing privatized child protection system, including an interview with Florida child advocate Stacie Schmerling on a horrific case of child sexual abuse in Ocala. Since the release of the articles, Florida lawmakers and child welfare leaders have debated the best route of care for our state’s youth. While it had once been common practice to keep families together, several years ago Florida’s leaders changed its policy resulting in the placement of more children into state care. As a result, an overwhelming number of children entered the system and were, sadly, put in greater danger of abuse, neglect and catastrophic injury when these children were placed with abusive foster parents.

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Tampa Bay Times: Plan to use secure facility for Hillsborough’s problem foster teens is ‘ludicrous,’ sheriff says

A plan to use a secure facility to house Hillsborough’s problem foster teens is being met with opposition from several groups, including the Hillsborough County Sheriff, the Hillsborough County Commission Chairman, and Florida’s Children First. They warn that forcing children into a locked facility will cause them more emotional harm.

According to a recent news report from the Tampa Bay Times, Sheriff Chronister “described the plan, which is backed by the Florida Department of Children and Families, as ‘ludicrous’ and warned Wednesday it would further erode children’s confidence in the grownups entrusted to care for them.”

Read more from the Tampa Bay Times here.