For more than a year, the Miami Herald dug through Department of Children & Families records and police reports to find out how and why nearly 500 children died over the past six years after falling through the Florida Department of Children & Families’ protective net.
The investigative series, Innocents Lost, uncovered the disturbing stories and found that the agency had embraced a family preservation philosophy without ensuring all the necessary social services were in place to keep children safe in troubled homes.
Join the Miami Herald and WLRN-Miami Herald News for a town hall on how to fix the child welfare system at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 17 at the Doral headquarters of the Herald. Learn more at MiamiHerald.com.
Days after a Miami Herald investigation documented 477 child-abuse deaths on the agency's watch, Florida's Department of Children and Families is launching a new child-safety program. It's advice for busy parents who may not be too careful about who takes care of their children. Click to hear Rick Stone's radio story.
In the wake of a wave of children's deaths last year, Gov. Rick Scott is calling on the Florida Legislature to include about $40 million in additional money for child protection in the next state budget, the governor announced Tuesday in Miami.
Scott's budget proposal includes nearly $32 million for the state Department of Children and Families for child protective investigations and $8 million for six Florida sheriff's offices that handle such investigations.
Scott called his proposal a "historic" budget increase for DCF, and Interim Secretary Esther Jacobo agreed.
In an outdoor press conference on Fort Lauderdale's Sistrunk Boulevard, in front of a large Christmas tree, State Rep. Perry Thurston urged Gov. Rick Scott to provide sufficient funding for the Florida Department of Children and Families.
Google's new Internet-safety program for school kids made its Florida debut recently in Cooper City. A lunchroom full of Pioneer Middle School students were shown the sometimes-complicated guide to going online and coming back in one piece.
The Internet is as much a part of school life today as three-ring binders and Dewey Decimal card catalogs were in an earlier time. The only difference: Old-time school artifacts did not moonlight as entertainment and communication media and certainly carried no risk of ruining, or even ending, young lives.
The toughest child abuse reporting law in the nation went into effect in Florida last October.
It used to be that only parents or caregivers suspected of abuse had to be reported.
Now, anyone who suspects a child is being abused or neglected is required to report it regardless of the suspect. Failure to do so could lead to a felony charge resulting in a five year prison sentence and a $5,000 fine.
The toughest child abuse reporting law in the nation went into effect in Florida last October, and the state has launched a campaign to raise awareness about the legal obligation to report suspected abuse.
The new law was introduced in response to the scandal at Penn State University. Former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was convicted of molesting children years after the abuse was discovered by staffers.
If a similar situation happens in Florida, the institution could now be fined a million dollars for each person who failed to report the abuse.
The Boy Scouts' "perversion files" have been released and the names of at least 160 Floridians are among the 1,000 former Boy Scout leaders and volunteers accused of sexually abusing Boy Scouts between 1965 and 1985.
Lawyers involved in the case say the Boy Scouts of America kept careful records of the suspects and allegations but never reported them to authorities. Many were flagged as "ineligible to volunteer."