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From DCF to Pam Bondi, Nothing But Contempt for Florida’s Sunshine Law

| June 30, 2016

It’s been decades since Florida had an elected statewide official who paid much more than lip service to open government, and state and local agencies are taking advantage, showing more contempt than respect for the law, argues Florence Snyder.

Hundreds Of Thousands Lose Food Stamps In Florida as Work Requirements Kick In

| May 17, 2016

In Florida if you can’t show that you’re working or meet the work requirements some other way, you get penalized and lose your food stamps for the following month. If you fail to meet the requirements again, it’s a three-month sanction and then six months.

Bowing to Baptist and Catholic Pressure, DCF Backs Off Protecting LGBT Children from Discrimination

| April 9, 2016

Proposed language protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in a DCF rule was opposed by the Florida Baptist Children’s Home and the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, so it was deleted.

Senate Bill Would Overhaul Florida’s Foster-Care Placements to Child-Centered Approach

| October 27, 2015

The bill, aimed at reducing instability for foster children, would match children with their best placement options — rather than, as critics charge, the first beds that are handy.

DCF Abuse Hotline Refused 2 Calls Before Phoebe Jonchuck Was Thrown Off Bridge

| February 4, 2015

DCF did not deem urgent a message from a lawyer for the girl’s father the day before the killing warning that Jonchuck was “driving all over town in his pajamas with Phoebe” and “seems depressed and delusional.”

Child Thrown From Bridge in Tampa Prompts New Look at DCF’s Porous Safety Net

| January 13, 2015

Records of the case reveal that many answers were already available — in the form of arrests that could have raised alarms at the state abuse hotline operated by the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Advocates Call for DCF to Give Up Child Safety Oversight to Local Cops After Mass Murders

| October 8, 2014

Roy Miller, spokesman for the Children’s Lobby, said last month’s mass murder-suicide involving six children in Gilchrist County amounted to the last straw in the department’s response to a series of child deaths stretching back many years.

Weekly Roundup: Redistricting Fight Continues, Utility Customers Bilked Again, DCF’s Woes

| October 5, 2014

With Gov. Rick Scott, the entire Cabinet and many of the state’s 160 lawmakers out on the stump campaigning for re-election, the news about government in Florida has largely moved elsewhere.

Despite 18 Investigations, DCF Claims Man’s 7 Murders in Bell Couldn’t Have Been Foreseen

| October 2, 2014

The murders drew national attention to the small town of Bell and led to questions about whether the Department of Children and Families could have done more to protect the children. The department and the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office visited the family’s home as recently as Sept. 2.

Palm Coast Boy, 9, Faces Battery and Molestation Charges After “Playing Around” With 11-Year-Old Girl

| September 16, 2014

The 9-year-old boy is accused of grabbing the girl’s breasts from behind, asking her to “give me a hug or I’ll rape you,” and hitting her with a flip-flop when she got away from him.

Sen. Sobel Calls for All Child Deaths, Not Just Those From Abuse, To Be Reported

| July 31, 2014

Florida just passed a law requiring the reporting of all child abuse deaths in an annual report. That’s not enough, Sen. Sobel says, proposing that all criminally-related child deaths, even in car wrecks, should be part of the report.

Department of Children and Families Intentionally Hid Reports on 30 Dead Kids

| June 2, 2014

After an embarrassing article appeared in The Miami Herald in September, a regional supervisor for the Department of Children and Families ordered workers not to file required incident reports on the deaths of children who were supposed to be safeguarded by DCF, the Herald reports.

Sweeping Child-Welfare Reform Bill Calls For “Moral Outrage” and More Money

| April 3, 2014

The legislation got its start last fall, after media reports about a wave of child deaths from abuse and neglect — and gained momentum as it became clear that many of the victims were already known to the Florida Department of Children and Families, which had failed to protect them.

From Child Protection to Early learning, Advocates Aim For More Serious Funding From 2014 Legislature

| March 2, 2014

With Florida’s coffers filling again and state leaders focusing on child protection, advocates are hopeful the 2014 legislative session will bring both policy and funding gains for children’s services as high-profile issues include a massive crackdown on sexually violent predators and an overhaul of the child-welfare system.

5 Years After 7-year-old Gabriel Myers’s Suicide, Psychotropic Drugs Still Overprescribed in Foster Care

| February 11, 2014

At the time, about 5 percent of all U.S. children were treated with psychotropic medications, but in Florida’s foster care system, 15.2 percent of children received at least one such medication. Of these, more than 16 percent were being medicated without the consent of a parent, guardian or judge. Not much has changed.

Troubling Scene of 1 and 2 Year Old Soiled and In Road Leads to Neglect Charges Against Mom

| November 12, 2013

Josie-Lynn Walters, 22, a resident of Espanola, was arrested on two counts of child neglect–a third-degree felony–after her children were found wandering unsupervised and in soiled underwear for over an hour near a busy intersection as Walters slept at home.

Report Blisters DCF Over Abused Children’s Deaths as Florida Lawmakers Vow to Act

| November 6, 2013

Florida’s recent series of child-abuse deaths took center stage at the Capitol on Tuesday, as a report blasted the state child-welfare system and as both chambers of the Legislature signaled they would craft bills to address the system’s shortcomings.

DCF Looking to Bring Family Drug Court to Florida as an Intervention Method

| September 7, 2013

With substance abuse still threatening to overwhelm child-welfare systems like Florida’s, officials are looking at drug courts for troubled families as a way to address the problem.

“Anybody But DCF”: Judge Wants Failing Agency Off Child Investigations After 5th Death

| July 23, 2013

On Monday, the department released information about the weekend death of a Homestead child who had earlier come to the attention of child-welfare officials. The death was the fifth such case since May 16 and followed the resignation last week of DCF Secretary David Wilkins, who left amid controversy about his approach to child safety.

Florida Government’s DCF Looks to Religious Organizations to Recruit Foster Parents

| June 3, 2013

Looking for foster parents, DCF Director of Faith Based Development Erik Braun told child welfare professionals at a conference that Florida has 12 million residents affiliated with a Catholic or Protestant church, 1 million Jews and 400,000 to 600,000 Muslims.

Wanted: Flagler and Florida Foster Parents

| May 28, 2013

With new legislation reforming Florida foster care, good foster parents will be more in demand than ever. And current foster parents say new ones will have a better experience than the old image of foster care might have led them to expect.

Children and the Boston Marathon Bombing: How to Help Them Cope

| April 16, 2013

With images of the Boston Marathon bombing and stories of the victims looping incessantly on television and in social media, the Florida Department of Children and Families has issued a caution to parents and educators about how to handle coming days with children, and about what signs to be on the alert.
Children can start […]

Florida’s Foster Care System Loosening Up Restrictions While Extending Eligibility to 21

| April 14, 2013

New laws reduce bureaucratic hoops for foster kids and their families who would no longer need approval for certain activities enjoyed by other kids and offer more protection to those nervous of stepping out of its protective wrap.

Children’s Week at the Florida Capitol Contrasts With a Dearth of Kids-Friendly Bills

| April 9, 2013

Bottom line: 19.2 percent of adults and 28.4 percent of children are sometimes hungry in Florida, compared to national averages of 16.1 percent for adults and 21.6 percent for children. About 21 percent of Florida children were living below the federal poverty level in 2009.

For Abuse Victims, Navigating Government Help Can Be Another Defeating Challenge

| April 8, 2013

Using stories drawn from real-life cases, participants a Domestic Violence Summit for police agencies in Flagler, Volusia, St. Johns and Putrnam counties tried to understand what it would be like to walk in the shoes of victims coping with the criminal justice system–and discovered the numerous obstacles victims face.

“Don’t Miss the Signs”: In Florida, Campaign and Means to Report Child Abuse Broaden

| January 28, 2013

Last year, the Florida Legislature passed the nation’s most protective child abuse reporting law. The state’s abuse hotline will accept reports of abuse committed by people other than parents and primary caregivers, such as a coach, teacher or neighbor.

Children in Nursing Homes: Florida Rejects Court Oversight in Dispute With U.S. Justice

| November 30, 2012

The Department of Justice in September threatened legal action over Florida’s violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by improperly placing disabled children in nursing homes and threatened legal action. Florida wants to resolve the dispute but opposes federal court oversight.

DCF Defends Drug Testing of Welfare Recipients

| September 17, 2012

The head of the state welfare agency is asking a court to throw out a challenge to the state law requiring drug testing of public assistance recipients, which could allow the program to restart.

In a Reversal, Florida Won’t End Benefits To Recipients With Underliverable Addresses

| September 16, 2012

The Florida Department of Children and Families on Friday scrapped a controversial change that would have halted food stamps, Medicaid and welfare benefits for people whose mail is returned to the agency as undeliverable.

Florida DCF’s Answer to Welfare Recipients’ Unforwarded Addresses: Cut Off Benefits

| September 7, 2012

The Florida Department of Children and Families has approved a change that would end public-assistance benefits for people who don’t report new addresses, drawing concerns that some low-income residents could unnecessarily lose food and medical aid.

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