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Families struggling to keep their children out of foster care are stymied by two major problems: homelessness and low public assistance grants, according to two New York City studies.
Florida CPS News Archive
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Lee County DCF subcontractor jailed for destroying records
A former Department of Children and Family Services subcontractor went to jail this week for tampering with public records related to case work.
Denny Kern was arrested by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on Wednesday and charged with a a 3rd-degree felony. NBC2 is looking into his arrest and has learned from DCF that Kern was hired by Lutheran Services in April 2013.
December 17, 2016
Florida Keys voters split on genetically modified mosquito trial
A proposal to release genetically altered mosquitoes into the Florida Keys hit a stumbling block, with voters expressing ambivalence about the plan.
Residents split on the possibility of a trial, with one ballot initiative open only to residents of Key Haven, where the trial would take place, failing, and another initiative open to all residents of surrounding Monroe County being approved.
November 9, 2016
Manatee County School Board debates homeschool bill being drafted in aftermath of Janiya Thomas
In an effort to keep homeschooled students safe from abuse, Manatee County School Board member Charlie Kennedy is proposing the board support legislation to change Florida's homeschool law.
A proposal being drafted by the Manatee County Sheriff's Office and state Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, would change the homeschool law to add an in-person check on homeschool children by a certified teacher on either a semester or quarterly basis, board member Charlie Kennedy said.
November 10, 2015
Number of Children in Foster Care Spikes
The number of Florida children in the state's foster-care system has reached its highest level since 2008 - driven by both a spike in the number of kids being removed from their homes and a drop in the number being discharged.
In the last 24 months, the number of children in what's known as out-of-home care has reached 22,004 statewide, up from 17,591 in 2013. These and other trends are included in a report developed by the Department of Children and Families for a recent meeting of the state's privatized community-based care organizations, which oversee foster care and adoption services.
July 2, 2015
Woman jailed after fleeing from child protective services
A 23-year-old woman faces charges of interfering with custody after fleeing from child protective services investigators who were trying to take the child.
The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports that a Bunnell police officer contacted Jasmine Lee Sloan about an hour later. She agreed to surrender the child Thursday night and was taken to the Flagler County Jail, where she remained Saturday on a $10,000 bond.
June 23, 2015
DEP and DCF Partner to Provide State Park Passes to Foster Families
During National Foster Care Month, state park passes will be distributed to 15,000 families throughout Florida to celebrate foster parents.
The partnership builds on an annual program that encourages foster children and their families to engage in outdoor recreation and supports them in the journey to lead more normal lives and create lasting memories with their foster families. Park passes will be distributed to foster parents throughout the state by Community-Based Care (CBC) lead agencies and local DCF offices.
May 5, 2015
Hybrid homeschool puts focus on the family
A new hybrid school - combining aspects of homeschooling and traditional schooling and faith-based learning - is winning over parents.
Qualified teachers write lesson plans and teach classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The students are instructed at home by a parent Mondays and Wednesdays using the same lesson plans. Fridays are usually an extracurricular class, like sign language, physical education or the arts.
April 15, 2015
Winter Springs boy found wandering, mom charged
A Seminole County mother is facing charges after police say her 6-year-old son was wandering by himself a mile from home at a busy intersection.
"Yeah, 'cause I have no idea what she is saying. She's kind of slurring her words, moving around 'drunkish,' and I don't know if she's on something or drunk. She ... she's not really making a lot of sense."
March 25, 2015
State child welfare agency hires investigator forced to resign amid sex and bribery allegations
When Florida's Department of Children and Families hired Karlos Barnes to handle child abuse investigations in 2013, the agency thought it was getting an experienced investigator.
What the child welfare agency didn't know: it hired an investigator to help children in southeast Florida who was forced to resign his old job under a cloud of accusations, including sex and bribery, according to a review of hundreds of pages of state records by the Scripps-Tribune Capital Bureau. The agency overseeing alcohol and tobacco investigations wanted to keep its inquiry into the allegations "quiet," state records show, and apparently didn't follow procedures.
November 23, 2014
Port St. Lucie man charged in death of 2-year-old foster child
A 2-year-old boy is dead and the one of the child's foster parents is at the center of a homicide investigation, according to Port St. Lucie Police.
Police charged Michael Beer, 47, of Port St. Lucie with first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse Wednesday in the death of 2-year-old Trysten Eli Frank Adams.
October 2, 2014
Another mom arrested for sending her kid to the park
Why are parents being punished for giving children independence?
"I'm totally dumbfounded by this whole situation," says Nicole Gainey. She's not the only one. The Port St. Lucie, Florida, mom was arrested on Saturday for letting her 7-year-old son, Dominic, walk alone - in the daytime, with a cellphone - a half-mile to a local park. "I honestly didn't think I was doing anything wrong," she says. "I was letting him go play." During his approximately 10-minute walk, the boy passed by a public pool, where a patron asked him where his mother was and other questions. As he told a local news station, "I got scared and ran off to the park, and that's when they called the cops." Police picked up the boy at the park, brought him home and arrested his mother for felony child neglect.
July 30, 2014
Sheriff Scott : Parents of found toddlers could face more charges
ESTERO - Sheriff Mike Scott praised the teamwork of the different agencies that came together to help rescue Innocence and Caspian.
Scott said there was no indication that drug or alcohol use contributed to the children wandering off. Neither child was able to give a coherent statement to investigators, he said. The sheriff described the parents, Racheal Davis and Cole Thomas, as "somewhat subdued, somewhat reserved" when they were interviewed by detectives. Their statements will be made public further into the investigation.
June 25, 2014
Why Every Foster Kid Should Have an 'Electronic Backpack'
Ventura County, Calif., is home to roughly a thousand children who end up in the tough and disruptive world of foster care. These adolescents live transient existences, sometimes changing homes two or even three times in a year.
But officials in Ventura County have an idea that might help: Give every foster kid an "electronic backpack." The county announced in June that it will phase in a digital repository of health, education and juvenile probation records for foster youth that will be stored and accessed from one centralized location. While policymakers have sought for years to improve electronic medical records for the general population, the issue is particularly relevant for children in foster care, who tend to suffer disproportionate rates of physical ailments, such as asthma, dental decay and malnutrition.
June 25, 2014
Scott signs Detert bill helping foster kids become drivers
TALLAHASSEE Foster children between the ages of 16 and 18 will get help in obtaining driver's licenses under a bill signed into law today by Gov. Rick Scot.
The legislation (HB 977), called the "keys to independence," sponsored by Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, and Rep. Ben Albritton, R-Wauchula, will provide $800,000 in a pilot program under the Department of Children and Families to help foster children take driving classes, obtain licenses and get vehicle insurance. The law builds on the "let kids be kids" legislation that Detert and Albritton helped pass last year - and win Scott's approval - that allowed children in foster care to participate in everyday activities, like school field trips or sports events, without having to gain permission from case managers or other authorities.
June 19, 2014
District says it handled student sex case properly
Shortly after the Columbia County School District launched an investigation on whether staff members failed to report sexual abuse involving a student at Pinemount Elementary.
In response to our request, the School District began investigating and concluded that Niblack Elementary staff appropriately handled the two incidents in the 2012 to 2013 school year where a male student allegedly touched a female student through her clothes. The male student was suspended both times and the incidents were referred to law enforcement for investigation, but the Department of Children and Families says it was never notified.
June 4, 2014
Medical Marijuana DEA Raids Restricted Thanks to House Vote
Back in February of 2013, law enforcement officials swarmed a home, after a government employee who was visiting another house, had spotted some marijuana plants on the property.
Cops entered the house, and confiscated the marijuana plants, all while the owner of the home -- a wheelchair-bound 64-year-old woman -- watched helplessly as her home and property were invaded by agents like a SWAT team crashing into Pablo Escobar's mansion. Turns out, the woman was Cathy Jordan, the president of the Florida Cannabis Action Network, and had been suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease since 1986.
May 30, 2014
Five Years After Foster Care Child's Suicide, Findings Could Resurface
The suicide of 7-year-old Gabriel Myers in foster care shocked the child-welfare system in 2009. It led to a series of recommendations about Florida's use of psychotropic medications on foster kids and how to protect already-traumatized children.
Gabriel was taking two psychotropic medications when he died, and a Department of Children and Families investigation found that neither his parents nor a judge had approved them, nor was the medication he took reflected in his case files. Then-DCF Secretary George Sheldon appointed two work groups in 2009 and 2010 to study and make recommendations about the use of psychotropic medications on foster children and about child-on-child sexual abuse.
February 9, 2014
Man accused of handcuffing and raping boy, 5
A man accused of handcuffing and raping a 5-year-old boy in 2007 has been arrested, according to authorities.
Camelot Barajas-Torres, who turns 30 on Saturday, was arrested Thursday on charges of capital sexual battery and false imprisonment in the case. Authorities recently became aware of the alleged sexual abuse when the victim's mother decided to talk with someone about the incident.
September 20, 2013
Martin County Library System offers wealth of resources, savings to homeschool families
STUART - Though the Turull family lives in Port St. Lucie, the Martin County Library System (MCLS) has been their go-to place for books and research for the past 18 months.
Reasons to homeschool vary based on the needs of the family. For the Turulls, the idea of one-on-one learning and letting their children explore, in greater depth, subjects that interest them was very appealing. They visit the library four to six times a month for homeschool purposes and find that it is a great way to break up the week and do some learning outside of the house.
August 19, 2013
Shootin' My Mouth
This past week we had an interview with a Christian homeschool co-op we want to join. The kids and I visited the group back in the spring and really liked it.
Our friends Shaun and Kasey, homeschoolers as well, applied to the same co-op and we carpooled to the interviews. The ride up there was full of coaching from us girls on how we expected our boys to act. They were resistant. We were adamant. To show you how serious I was about the whole thing: I wore lipstick. I loathe lipstick.
August 18, 2013
Judge wants DCF to transfer child-protective investigations
In the wake of a fifth child death in little more than two months, a circuit judge Tuesday called for the Florida Department of Children and Families to stop doing child-welfare investigations and transfer that responsibility elsewhere.
"They need to get out of the child-protection investigation business," Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman said of the department. Whether law-enforcement agencies or local community-based care organizations conduct the investigations doesn't matter, Lederman said. "Anybody but DCF." Part of the problem, Lederman said, was that DCF had been unable to establish the need for intervention when it was warranted.
August 14, 2013
Girl Left Alone in Little Havan Apartment With Weapons To Remain in DCF Custody
The legal tug-of-war for custody of a young girl left alone in an apartment full of weapons took several unexpected turns Friday.
Family Court Judge Alan Fine first ignored the Department of Children and Families' recommendations and placed 4-year-old Analiz Bianchi in the custody of her biological mother Liz Marie Bones, who hasn't lived with the child for a year since she split up with the dad.
July 26, 2013
Florida Department of Children and Families Announces Thorough Review of Child Deaths
There have been 12 verified deaths due to abuse or neglect in 2013, according to the Florida Department of Children and Families.
The agency says in order to do the most thorough review possible it will be looking into far more than just the verified cases to identify ways to prevent future tragedies. Two-year-old Jayden Villegas Morales of Homestead is the latest child death where the family has a history with DCF.
July 26, 2013
State child welfare chief resigns
Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins, Gov. Rick Scott's longest- serving agency head, resigned Thursday after weeks of bad publicity over the agency's handling of troubled children in state care.
He'll be immediately replaced by an interim secretary, Esther Jacobo, a managing director of DCF's southern region in Miami. "David did a great job in leading the state's top child protection agency and his service is deeply appreciated," Scott said in a release. "I have no doubt that Esther will increase accountability in the Department and enhance child protective services in order to protect the most vulnerable among us."
July 18, 2013
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Free Reports and Educational Materials
If you are concerned about child rights, foster care and the general state of child protective services and our legal system that grinds on, you may find helpful information in these free downloads.
June 24, 2012
- Governing Rules for Florida Dependancy Cases
Useful Information for Defending Your Family From CPS.
- Consumers' Guide to Legal Help
American Bar Association
- Legal Services of North Florida, Inc.
Free legal representation in civil matters to low-income people in 14-northern counties
Florida State Courts
- Florida Legal Help
A guide to free and low-cost civil legal services in Florida.
- DCF Reform
Florida's parents demand DCF Reform
- Family Law Florida
Women fighting to retain or regain custody.
- Parents Against Prescription Drug Addiction (PAPDA)
Prescription Drug Addiction Resources
- Florida Child Advocate
Colodny, Fass, Talenfeld, Karlinsky & Abate, P.A.
- Changing Florida Law
Civil vs. Criminal Court
- Policy Manual (DCF)
The Florida Department of Children and Families
- Florida Alliance for Drug Endangered Children
Rescue, Defend, Shelter, Support
- Parents Without Rights
Children's Rights in Florida
- Dunlop, Dunlop & Dunlop, P.A.
Paternity: Children's Rights and Father's Rights
- Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights
Florida Statute: 39.806
- Overview of CPS (Union County)
National Study of Child Protective Services Systems and Reform Efforts
- The A-team
Defense for the falsely accused. (Not a free service)
- Robinson & Cole Attorneys At Law
Pro Bono Services
- Lawyers for Children America
Quality pro bono legal representation
- Juvenile Resources
Eighth Judicial Circuit Family Court
- Self Help Links
8th Circuit Court
- Family Court Self Help - Forms
Eighth Judicial Circuit Family Court
- Courts may terminate parent's rights without evidentiary hearing
Ex-judge Cain cries foul as Ashleigh case appeal rejected without explanation
- Policies and Procedures
Florida Department of Children and Families
- Community Partnership Benefits Abused and Neglected Children
Alachua, Levy and Gilchrist Counties
- Pro Bono Program Listings
Florida statewide free legal assistance programs.
- Florida Department of Children and Families
Child Protective Services information for the state of Florida.