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.
“What’s important is to have a great lieutenant governor,” Governor Scott said at a press conference announcing the appointment of Miami-Dade Property Appraiser Carlos Lopez-Cantera as lieutenant governor. But, Scott added, “I love the fact he’s Hispanic.”
On The Florida Roundup: After a nine-month vacancy, Gov. Rick Scott picks a new lieutenant governor. Miami-Dade property appraiser Carlos Lopez-Cantera becomes the first Hispanic to hold the position.
The governor’s other announcement this week was a $40 million increase for the Department of Children and Families and child abuse investigations, after the deaths of dozens of children who had contact with the agency. But is money the issue? Or the constant turnover in who leads DCF, which still has an interim secretary?
The recent deaths of so many children who had had contact with DCF has brought renewed scrutiny on a troubled agency: (clockwise from the top left, name, followed by their age at death, if known) Dontrell Melvin, unknown; Antwan Hope, 4; Dakota Stiles, 3; Ezra Raphael, 2; Aliyah Branum, 2; Jayden Morales, 2; Jewel Howard, 3; Cherish Perrywinkle, 8; and Christian Byrd, 2.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee, Michel Martin is away. Coming up, we talk with actor Ziyi Zhang about her latest film "The Grandmaster," and women in kung fu. That's in a moment. But we start our program today in Florida. At least 20 children who were on the radar of child protective services have died there since April, that's according to an investigation by the Miami Herald. And the question of course is, why and how do we stop more deaths from occurring?
On the day before she died, Jewel Re’nee Howard sat on the porch, in her grandmother’s lap, having her hair twisted into ponytails made pretty with pink and purple beads. She played outside the home with neighborhood children, ate noodles, talked and giggled, as she had so many days before, about her dream of becoming a princess.
Less than 15 hours later, Jewel was dead — her liver torn and mangled, ribs crushed, her tiny body bruised and bleeding internally.
David Wilkins, Florida's top child welfare and social services administrator resigned July 18 amid an escalating scandal over the recent deaths of four small children who had a history of involvement with child-abuse investigators.
Read more of the original Tampa Bay Times article here.
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.