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.
DCF under the guidance of Community Based Care (CBC) organizations have only revoked or refused to renew 29 caregivers’ license over the same five year period where nearly 5,000 calls of abuse were made. This is despite over 100 documented calls regarding sexual abuse or 65 calls of not adequately supervising sexually abused children to ensure they did not abuse other kids. In Tallahassee, a young girl was a victim of commercial sexual exploitation because she needed to earn money to buy food.
Near Daytona, a woman was accused of forcing her foster children to face the wall all day and would be physically punished if they leaned on it. In St. John’s County, a staff member in a group home reportedly restrained a boy and put him in the shower in view of other residents while cutting his clothes with a pair of scissors. Near Tampa, a foster father failed a polygraph test regarding being aroused by children. These are a few of the issues highlighted in the USA Today article that paint a very dire picture for the most vulnerable members of our community. Justice for Kids® is a leading child advocacy law firm dedicated to fighting for children who are victims of physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, wrongful death, and all other catastrophes that are the progeny of a careless child welfare system. Visit our offices across Florida for questions about Fort Lauderdale child abuse, Orlando personal injury and more.