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DCF Risk Factor List Aims to Prevent Child Abuse, Death

For Florida children abused or subjected to sexual abuse, physical abuse, personal injury or even wrongful death, a new program from the Florida Department of Children and Families could be the change the agency is hoping to implement after a spate of 20 deaths of children known to DCF officials.

DCF’s new guidelines may to allow it to respond more quickly when a child is in danger. DCF’s new Rapid Safety Feedback follows a study of child injuries and deaths and is on the heels of DCF family investigations.

Hillsborough County was the first to use the new guidelines, that call for caseworkers to look for risk factors, including the parents’ age, evidence of drug use or the presence of an unrelated boyfriend in the home, notes news reports.

“They see some of these key risk factors. They flag them. They call an emergency meeting. They get the CPI [Child Protective Investigator] at the table. They call Children’s Legal Services,” DCF spokesman Whitney Ray said to WFSU.org. “They make a determination as to what to do next, what is the best thing to do in the interest of the safety of that child.”

Child advocates and personal injury attorneys hoping to prevent physical abuse or sexual abuse or wrongful death among the state’s most vulnerable, including foster children, hope the new guidelines mean real change for DCF – and children under its care.

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