What is FCA?

Child Advocacy Blog


Posts Tagged ‘DCF’

When a Florida Foster Child Makes a Call for Help Does Anyone Listen?

December 1st, 2009   No Comments   Abuse, News & Events

If a Florida foster child, vulnerable person or concerned citizen makes a call to a state-sponsored abuse hotline, can he or she be assured help will come?

That’s the question citizens, child advocate attorneys and others are asking as revelations of the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) Abuse Report Hotline are going public.

At issue: The state’s admitted “screening” process that takes some calls seriously, while ignoring others.

“Hot-line calls are cries for help on behalf of a child,” said Howard Talenfeld, the Fort Lauderdale-based chairman of Florida’s Children First, an advocacy group. “Any call that is screened out is a cry that falls on deaf ears.”

Click here to read the Miami Herald article.

Five Florida Agencies Unite to Improve Educational Opportunities for Foster Youth

August 12th, 2009   No Comments   Education Issues, Foster Care

The heads of five Florida state agencies formally agreed today to work together to ensure that children in state care — including foster children — receive an appropriate, high-quality and stable education.

Signing the Interagency Agreement to Coordinate Services for Children Served by the Florida Child Welfare System were the heads of the Department of Children and Families (DCF), the Department of Education (DOE), the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD), and the Agency for Workforce Innovation (AWI).

Click here to see the Guide to Improve Educational Opportunities for Florida’s Foster Youth.

Signers say that the agreement will go a long way toward ensuring that foster children receive the coordinated services and the stability they need to succeed in school and beyond. (more…)

Florida Today: Sanction Doctors, Child Workers Who Ignore Rules in Prescribing Psychiatric Drugs

Florida Today writes about the Florida Department of Children and Families study of compliance by physicians and case workers with regard to legal rules related to prescribing mental health drugs to foster care kids. The publication commented that they report was “disturbing and demands action.”

The conclusions — of both the study and Florida Today’s editors — are correct: The practice is too widespread, with too little oversight.

Yet this should be just a starting point. If it were to conduct a similar study, I believe the Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities ( APD ) would arrive at similar conclusions, namely that group home operators often are administering these medications without the proper power of consent from families or guardians, and physicians aren’t obtaining appropriate histories and conducting appropriate physical or behavioral examinations.

The improper use of psychotropic medications has hit near epidemic proportions in the Florida foster care and group home setting. The public first realized this with the April suicide of Gabriel Myers, 7, and weeks later, with a wrongful death lawsuit filed following the overdose of Denis Martez, 12.

Florida Today’s editorial helps raise public awareness of this important issue. We all should keep awareness high so we can remedy this serious situation. Read the full editorial here.

Florida DCF Makeover Helps Foster Families Stay United

July 3rd, 2009   No Comments   Foster Care, News & Events
With eight of her nine children, Peggy Bach holds her newest child, Israel Bach,1 week old. Others are from the baby, clockwise, Andrew Bach, Grace Fisher, Arik Bach, Amber Hurley, Faith Fisher, Jake Bach and Bruce Bach. DON BURK/The Times-Union

With eight of her nine children, Peggy Bach holds her newest child, Israel Bach,1 week old. Others are from the baby, clockwise, Andrew Bach, Grace Fisher, Arik Bach, Amber Hurley, Faith Fisher, Jake Bach and Bruce Bach. DON BURK/The Times-Union

For those looking for solutions to issues surrounding Florida foster children and families, look no further than to some of the innovative programs being implemented around the state.

By keeping vulnerable families together and providing financial and emotional support where possible, state agencies, their contracted providers and other child advocates are able to reduce or eliminate legal issues, damages, damage claims, lawsuits and other problems that can arise.

The more important result is a happier, more stable family. Below is the story from the Jacksonville Times-Union of how one family benefited from the redesign of the DCF model…

When Peggy Bach  and her eight children were asked to leave her boyfriend’s house in December, she wasn’t quite sure what to do.

The 37-year-old Jacksonville woman was on maternity leave, pregnant with her ninth child. She had no money and no place to go. Bach was afraid to ask for help in fear she would lose custody of her kids. But by March, she had no other choice. Because of a redesign of the state Department of Children and Families, Bach retained custody of her children. She also got $1,200 to move into a new house, food stamps, mentoring for her children and even gave her multiple Wal-Mart gift cards until food stamps were approved.

That wouldn’t have always been the case. In the past, Bach’s kids would have been added to the 1,012 Duval County children living in foster or relative care. But as part of the redesign, DCF is spending more time working with parents and placing fewer children in the foster care system.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Florida Uses Electronic Records to Place Foster Kids in Relatives’ Homes Out-of-State

June 5th, 2009   No Comments   Foster Care

Waiting for a permanent home for weeks or months may feel like an eternity to a Florida child in foster care.

It is especially frustrating when a grandmother, aunt or other relative living out of state is ready and willing to provide a home for a boy or girl removed from a family because of abuse or neglect.

The Florida Department of Children and Families’ (DCF) response has been to implement a fully electronic database to facilitate the transfer of dependent children outside of Florida.

Once the Department committed itself last year to speeding up out-of-state transfer of a child by using electronic records, DCF has significantly reduced the time it takes to exchange required information about the child with the appropriate state. Florida is the leader among the states in its use of electronic records for what is known as the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC).

The price-tag on converting to electronic records was $3,000, and about $100,000 a year is being saved on postage. (more…)

Florida Foster Children Get Too Many Psychotropic Drugs With Too Little Oversight from State DCF

June 1st, 2009   No Comments   Foster Care, Psychotropic

Gabriel Myers (image from Florida DCF)The Florida Department of Children and Families Work Group issued its report on the role psychotropic medications played in the April suicide of Gabriel Myers – and the results were stark and unacceptable.

In the report issued this week, the DCF reported that 2,669 of Florida’s 20,235 foster children under the age of 17 were given one or more psychotropic drugs – with one in six, or about 16 percent, lacking required permissions. Some 73 kids 5 or younger are on the drugs.

Most shocking: Florida passed a law in 2005 requiring parental consent or a judge’s approval before administering psychotropic drugs.

Why is this important? These powerful psychological and mood-altering medications are used to control children’s behavior often in lieu of appropriate behavioral interventions. Many are often prescribed even though there is no FDA approval and there are significant side effects, including depression that could lead to suicide. Thus, they must be administered in appropriate situations where behavioral interventions have been exhausted, with a court order and under the close supervision of prescribing physicians well versed with the individual child’s health and care regimen. (more…)