2 State Agencies on Hotseat

The state departments that are supposed to protect children and mentally-retarded inmates are being challenged in the wake of incidents that led to preventable deaths.

State Sen. Eleanor Sobel

First, State Sen. Eleanor Sobel accused the Department of Children and Families (DCF) of a “cover-up and a whitewash” after the agency said no records were generated during an internal investigation into a previous alleged cover-up, the Miami Herald reports.

Second, there are questions about suspicious deaths of inmates at prisons in the state that were never investigated by the Department of Corrections, the Miami Herald reports in a separate article.

Regarding DCF, the genesis of the cover-up accusation was the discovery that a regional office that covers Broward, Palm Beach and three other counties failed to write and send in reports on the deaths of 30 children known to the agency as being at risk of harm. At the time, last fall and early 2014, the Herald was known to be preparing a report on such deaths.

That report, Innocents Lost, was published in March. It said 477 children supposedly under DCF watch had died in Florida over a six-year period. The series led to legislative hearings and bills to overhaul the agency.

More recently, the Herald reported that the 30 deaths from Southeast had been withheld from the total. DCF Deputy Secretary Pete Digre was assigned to investigate.

DCF Deputy Secretary Pete Digre

When he finished, Digre said Regional Administrator Dennis Miles may have violated the letter of the law, but didn’t intentionally “shield information from anyone,” the Herald reported. DCF Secretary Mike Carroll gave Miles two days of suspension without pay.

“I can assure you that no information was destroyed, and no child deaths were unaccounted for,” Carroll said.

When the Herald tried to obtain the records of the investigation, Digre and Carroll said there were not any — nothing on paper, nothing digital.

Sobel, a Democrat who chairs the Senate’s Children, Family and Elder Affairs Committee, said the agency is engaging in a huge cover-up to preserve its public image. “They are obstructing information, they are obstructing justice, and they are obstructing transparency,” she told the Herald.

Sen. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, agrees. “I don’t believe the department can, in good conscience, say they conducted an investigation if no paperwork was produced,” she told the Herald.

Sen. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring

As for the Department of Corrections, the Herald recounts a number of suspicious inmate deaths over the years, most recently, a scalding death of a mentally retarded inmate in the shower, and raises questions about why DOC has failed to carry out investigations afterward. The warden of the facility in which the scalded inmate died had been in trouble previously when a suspicious death occurred at a different prison, the Herald reports.



9 comments to 2 State Agencies on Hotseat

  • Amy Eckardt

    These compassionate women-Sen. Denise Grimsley and State Sen. Eleanor Sobel-are to admired and honored with reverence for caring about people (in memory of those lost because of lies and deceit by DCF employees). Thank you to these special women for their bravery. I am on their side rooting for them (to bring the immoral DCF to justice) as well as so many others who read this article. These women need to institute an independent panel that is not paid by DCF or even have any relationship with DCF. This panel will investigate all wrongdoings thus being a preventative measure, helping the rest of those in DCF before they too become lost, hurt, or dead.

  • Linda

    It is time for ever DCF to be investigated by those other than themselves. They are as crooked as the day is long. Children are taken needlessly and then die while in their custody. DCF answers to nobody. Lawmakers continue to do nothing and funnel money to them based on how many children they steal, put on foster care and then adopt out using their foster care system as an adoption agency.

  • Our law enforcement agencies were set up to have checks and balances. When an agency polices itself there is alway a problem at some point. Outside oversight is the only answer.

  • This is a Nationwide problem. In fact world wide. CPS/DCYF needs to be abolished and report’s of abuse should be once again handled by the Police.CPS are rewarded for every child they steal with Federal incentive money. If you were being paid to steal kids, what would you do? They should only receive incentive money for every family they HELP and keep together. The Police would do a much better job. Only the truly abused children would be removed. No more frivolous, idiotic reasons to steal a child. Most of the Nation’s Police don’t even like CPS. Even they know how evil they are!

  • Please do not be fooled by Ms. Sobel. This agency is the monster her and her socialist democratic party created over the years. Sobel voted against our joint custody bill- alimoney reform bill last year.It would take away privilege that women have in the corrupt family courts. She engages in in group gender favortism.
    Arizona’s governor Brewer did away with this corrupt agency a few months ago.

  • Angela Borths

    These agencies cover up the deaths of children, they cover up the amount of drugs (dangerous drugs) they are giving to foster children and they cover up the abuse children actually receive while under the care of the state (aka foster care) Every agency should be investigated for the protection of the children. To believe that corruption hasn’t taken hold in an agency shielded in secrecy and a playground for pedophiles and abusers is to be a real fool and aid and abetting in child abuse…
    But what do I know I’m just a former foster child who suffered real abuse in the hands of cps. (And like a child fool I had placed myself there for my PROTECTION)

  • Mark Rogers

    I have encountered some good, well intentioned people inside DCF, but Agency-wise, Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely. When an Agency with De-facto Police Powers answers to no one, and “Polices” itself, corruption will follow. No doubt, abused children need help and protection, but too often the system is itself is abused and parents are placed under duress to “cooperate and do as we say, or pay the ( higher )price. OUTSIDE non-partisan review is needed, not an internal whitewash ” we looked into it but didn’t find anything and didn’t write anything down because we know it would be subject to the Sunshine Law. No writing = no evidence ” Thank you to Senators Sobel and Grimsley for taking a stand.

  • Globally, we are seeing a pandemic of those in authority abusing their power. Abuse of children is especially concerning, because most of these children are effected for life.
    We need safeguarding of the safeguarding people. The only possibility is transparency in all of the power mongers offices.

    My own family was destroyed by English social services because I criticised them. See the website http://www.moralpropositions.com where evidential documents are available.

  • Gisele L Finch

    This needs to STOP… I’m currently going through the same thing, with my granddaughter Zoey ~ She’s literally in the hands of her alleged molester. With no ed evidence against the mother, but bias lie from DCFS, DA, Family court, Police, and Cps. Yet there is nothing but evidence against the father. I’ve exhausted reporting to State agencies and then reporting the State agencies involved for not doing their jobs, following the Law and Protecting an innocent child, whom have repeatedly spoken and have been ignored. Thus severely violating the Child’s civil rights, both 4th and 14th amendment rights!!! Including Reports, Videos, Tape recordings, her Therapist letter, worse exams where the child had tears on private areas where she said father’s molesting her. A tear started bleeding. Yet father was not arrested! Worse Child’s literally with the alleged molester right now…

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