We hope state lawmakers get serious about fixing problems in the Department of Children and Families. Protecting vulnerable children should be the priority of any society and an essential function of government.
On Tuesday, the department’s interim secretary, Esther Jacobo, discussed with lawmakers a report by the Casey Family Programs, a private group she asked to review the deaths.
The Casey staff looked at 40 recent child deaths suspected to have been caused by abuse or neglect.
A disturbing aspect of the report was that a “number of babies in these families later died from asphyxia resulting from co-sleeping with parents under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” noted the Casey group.
The people given the responsibility to care for the most vulnerable were clearly unfit parents. Unfortunately, no one was watching.
Senators were told that family oversight was the problem. Christina Spudeas, executive director of the advocacy group Florida’s Children First, said quality-assurance staff has been cut by 72 percent.
While government spending continues to be scrutinized, we urge caution when it comes to cutting money budgeted to protect children.
We agree with professor Pam Graham, of Florida State University, who told senators that what is needed are well-trained, professional social workers dealing with troubled families, not cuts. Overworked social workers can’t perform effectively when they each have dozens of families to track.
It’s just asking for more trouble and more death.
Pensacola News Journal