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CAI Holds Congressional Briefing to Unveil New Report:

Shame on U.S.
Failings by All Three Branches of Our Federal Government Leave
Abused and Neglected Children Vulnerable to Further Harm
January 27, 2015

The federal government's dereliction allows states to fall short on meeting minimum child welfare standards. Below is information specific to Florida.

CFSR Results Summary: In its Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) process, HHS determines whether each state is in substantial conformity with 7 specific outcomes (pertaining to the areas of safety, permanency and family and child well-being) and 7 systemic factors (relating to the quality of services delivered to children and families and the outcomes they experience).  In the first two rounds of the CFSR, HHS has concluded that Florida was:

Round 1 (2001)

  • NOT in substantial conformity with 6 of the 7 Outcomes
  • NOT in substantial conformity with 2 of the 7 Systemic Factors

Round 2 (2009)   

  • NOT in substantial conformity with 7 of the 7 Outcomes
  • NOT in substantial conformity with 3 of the 7 Systemic Factors

Although federal law mandates that any state found not to be operating in substantial conformity during an initial or subsequent review must begin a full review within two years after approval of the state's program improvement plan, HHS has announced that Florida will not undergo Round 3 of the CFSR until FY 2016 (see CFSR Technical Bulletin #7 (March 2014)).

Documents from the U.S. Health & Human Services Children's Bureau

Child Welfare Litigation*

  • Bonnie L. v. Bush
    Litigation filed by Childrens Rights on behalf of twenty-two children against Florida’s Department of Children and Families (DCF). The suit alleged that DCF failed to protect foster children in its custody from harm and to provide them with appropriate placements. Specific provisions of the complaint concerned the lack of foster homes and other placement options; overcrowded and inadequately supervised homes and facilities; and placement in homes that were dangerous, abusive, or neglectful.
  • Brown v. Kearney
    Litigation filed by Florida Legal Services, ACLU of Florida, and the University of Miami School of Law Children and Youth Clinic challenging the failure of the Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services (HRS) (now called the Department of Children and Families) to prevent the removal of children from their families or to reunite families, where homelessness was a primary factor resulting in HRS custody.
  • Lofton v. Kearney
    Litigation filed by the University of Memphis Child Advocacy Clinic, ACLU of Florida, and others against the Attorney General and the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to enjoin them from enforcing a Florida statute prohibiting gays and lesbians from adopting children. Plaintiffs sued under the substantive due process and equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution.
  • M.E. v. Bush
    Litigation filed by the University of Memphis Child Advocacy Clinic and Holland & Knight on behalf of plaintiffs, alleging that the Department of Children and Families failed to provide necessary therapeutic services for dependent and delinquent children in state custody in violation of federal substantive and procedural due process, the ADA, 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, Title XIX and Title IV-E of the Social Security Act, and the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention and Treatment Act.
  • Two Forgotten Children v. State of Florida
    This civil action for damages was brought by two foster children (sisters) against Florida for their excessive length of stay (more than 13 years), denial of family, separation from each other, and being subjected to rapes, beatings, psychotropic medications, excessive force, restraints, and isolation.

*litigation summaries taken from information provided by the National Center for Youth Law

Child Welfare In the News**

  • Sobel wants to consider independent panel to review child deaths (Tampa Bay Times - January 22, 2015) Frustrated that state officials have scrubbed crucial, and often embarrassing, details from a state report on children who have died from abuse, the head of the key Senate oversight committee said Thursday that it may be time to take the job away from the administration.
  • After Girl's Death, DCF Vows to Do Better (Tampa Bay Times - January 12, 2015) The head of the Florida Department of Children and Families pledged Monday to do a better job investigating caregivers with mental health and substance abuse issues after the death of 5-year-old Phoebe Jonchuck in St. Petersburg last week.
  • Editorial: State needs to better protect children (Tampa Bay Times - January 12, 2015) Once again, state legislators, child advocates and caring residents are wrestling with how government can save children from dysfunctional parents and caregivers. Also: Romano: Phoebe Jonchuck's death requires big-picture solution, not just knee-jerk anger (Opinion):
  • Florida man tells horrifying tales of child sex slavery (Includes video) (KHOU - January 10, 2015) Human sex trafficking is a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States according the Department of Justice, and it's happening right here on the First Coast. Some of the victims are young children forced to have sex dozens of times a day.
  • Study Raises Questions About Group Homes For Kids (News Service of Florida - January 10, 2015) A new study shows that placing children in group homes instead of with foster families is much more expensive - and many children's advocates say it's also worse for the kids.
  • Florida Faulted for Failing Sick Foster and Poor Children (Tribune News Service - January 06, 2015) A child welfare judge in Miami has accused the state of denying necessary psychiatric treatment to abused and neglected children in its care, and has ordered Florida social service administrators to appear before him and explain why they have "no duty" to help sick foster kids.
  • Shame on Florida for squelching reviews in child-abuse death cases (Opinion) (Bradenton Herald - December 31, 2014) Child-death reviews, required by federal law and once detailed and meticulous, have become vague reports full of uncritical boilerplate language, revealing little, if anything, of what went wrong.
  • Transparency lost in reviews of Florida child abuse deaths (Miami Herald - December 20, 2014) To find evidence of the panel's existence is no simple matter today. In recent months the Florida Department of Health quietly scrubbed any reference to the Child Abuse Death Review Committee from its website, where the library of prior reports had been posted for public examination for more than a decade.
  • Florida is the child abuse capital of America (Daily Mail - December 18, 2014) Shocking new figures reveal Florida to be the child abuse capital of America - as 117 children were killed while being monitored by welfare officers in the state in just five years.
  • The foster-care system has failed our children (Opinion) (Miami-Herald - December 08, 2014) For too many years, Florida's child-welfare system has failed to protect the most vulnerable in our community - children.
  • Children in peril deserve better (Opinion) (Daytona Beach News-Journal - December 04, 2014) Did DCF back away from the Mohney family too quickly this summer? Could investigators have seen this coming? Could anyone? Before this year, the main responsibility for answering that question would have fallen to DCF itself - and in the aftermath of children's deaths, the agency had a history of obscuring facts that paint it in a less-than-favorable light.
  • Doctors concerned over child abuse deaths (Includes video) (News4Jax - November 13, 2014)"Child abuse and neglect is alarming, but this is an unusually high number," Wolfson President Michael Aubin said. "And when we saw that, for us it was, 'We need to do something about this and we need to talk about this in our community.'"

**news summaries taken from daily newsfeed service of HHS' Child Welfare Information Gateway


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Children's Advocacy Institute
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