Senate Panel Approves Major Changes to Child-Welfare System

By: Margie Menzel News Service of Florida | Posted: March 12, 2014 3:55 AM
Child abuse

A Senate panel on Tuesday unanimously approved three measures that would make wide-ranging changes to Florida's child-welfare system after a series of highly publicized deaths last year that involved child abuse and neglect.

The Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee passed provisions that would help children in state care by keeping siblings together and by providing subsidies to caregivers who aren't related to the children they take in.

Another provision would create a criminal offense for abandoning a child and provide prosecutors with a tool to stop “rehoming,” illegal adoptions that put children at great risk.

Others would revamp the Department of Children and Families, adding an assistant secretary for child welfare and a consortium of state university social-work programs called the Florida Institute for Child Welfare. The institute would conduct research and policy analysis to advise the state and improve the education and training of the child-welfare workforce.

One bill, SPB 7072, by committee Chairwoman Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, would require 80 percent of newly hired child protective investigators and their supervisors to hold college degrees in social work. It would exempt them from paying tuition and fees for those credits and offer a loan reimbursement program as well.

"We send a firefighter to fight fires," Sobel said. "We need to send a social worker to do social work."

A second bill, SPB 7074 by Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, would require that when siblings are removed from homes as the result of abuse, neglect, or abandonment, the Department of Children and Families must make every effort to keep the siblings together and, if separated, to keep them in communication with one another and reunited as quickly as feasible, unless doing so would not be in the best interest of the children.

Miranda Phillips of the advocacy group Florida Youth Shine told lawmakers she hadn't seen her brother in five years, since he was adopted, because his adoptive parents wouldn't allow it.

"This hurts me a lot, because I feel like the only family I have has been taken from me, and now I'm alone," Phillips said.

The bill also requires the Department of Children and Families to conduct certain investigations with rapid response teams and to note on its website all children's deaths reported to its child-abuse hotline. The bill would expand the scope of child deaths to be reviewed by the statewide child-death abuse review committee to include all child deaths reported to the hotline. And it expands the department's Relative Caregiver Program to include nonrelatives who are willing to assume custody of a dependent child.

A third measure, SPB 7076 by Sen. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, would provide services for medically complex children in their homes and communities to the greatest extent possible. It would require a child protection team to evaluate reports of medical neglect and allow the Department of Children and Families to place children in medical foster homes.

Most of the public comment was positive, but the panel passed the measures with the understanding that they would see further changes in future committees, which have yet to be determined.

Howard Talenfeld, president of the advocacy group Florida's Children First, told lawmakers there were still gaps in the system that could cause more fatalities.

Tags: News, Politics

Comments (2)

they can pass laws all they want
9:09AM MAR 14TH 2014

Home town of Governor RICK SCOTT-

A Collier County deputy accused of molesting a teenage boy in 2010 will not serve jail time for the allegations.

Charles Bullock pled no contest in court Monday morning. He must serve two years of probation and must give up his law enforcement license. If he violates his probation, he could face up to 10 years in prison.

“The state acknowledged the alleged victim's family wanted prison time for Bullock in the past. But they say attempts to contact them prior to the plea deal were unsuccessful.”
Top Naples defense attorney Jerry Berry says there were "inconsistencies" in the alleged victim's story before the sate lost touch with him and his family.
"It isn't fair. It isn't fair to Chuck Bullock that he was arrested. It isn't fair to Chuck Bullock that he had to plead any charges. When you look at the facts carefully, I've been through the deposition of the alleged victim and there's a clear credibility issue with the allegations made by the young man," he said.

The alleged incidents occurred in April of 2010 when the then 15-year-old boy told Naples police officers that Bullock peered over a bathroom stall in the Coastland Center Mall while he was urinating.
A report then states, "Once inside the restroom, the male subject commanded juvenile victim to pull down his pants, or he would pull them down for him."

According to the report, there were three occasions in which the two met up and Bullock performed oral sex on him.
“The alleged incidents, witnessed by a mall janitor, launched a flurry of accusations.”

General Penalties for Sex Crimes in Florida

Sex Offender Designation - Every person convicted of a sexually related felony offense is declared a sexual offender and is forced to comply with sexual offender registration laws throughout Florida and the United States. Sex offenders must update their residence with every three to six months for their entire life.

Incarceration - Every sexually related felony offense scores mandatory prison.

Sex Offender Probation - Every person convicted of a sexually related felony offense is placed on Sex Offender Probation; which restricts where you can live, imposes a curfew, requires mandatory sex offender counseling, and restricts where you can work.

Sex Crime Specific Penalties - Sex crimes in general carry harsh penalties and burdensome sanctions. Additionally, the more severe the sex crime, the greater prison exposure a person faces. Below are approximate prison sentences a first-time offender would be facing for specific sex crimes.

Sexual Battery; Rape Florida Statute 794.011 - Sexual Battery carries the most severe penalties of all sexual crimes in Florida. Depending on the victim's characteristics, a person convicted of sexual battery (rape) would be facing a maximum sentence of life in prison and a minimum sentence of nine (9) years in prison.

So what good did all these laws in place in 2010 do this victim? NONE!

The system drug out this case for FOUR YEARS! During that time what happened to the victim and his parents? What happened to the mall Janitor who witnessed the sexual assault?

Other stories regarding this case indicate that other Mall Janitors had witnessed this perverted Deputy Sheriff stalking the urinals at the mall.

They system done what it does best. They let time erase the evidence and then they failed to abide by the laws in place even at the time of the arrest of this pervert. No “mandatory prison” and no fulfillment of the law requiring “every person convicted of a sexually related felony offense is declared a sexual offender and is forced to comply with sexual offender registration laws throughout Florida and the United States.

The law makers can just keep right on passing their laws because the lawbreakers who run the system are going to just keep right on ignoring their laws.
they can pass laws all they want
7:35AM MAR 14TH 2014
They will never stop the abuse of our children as long as they are either personally involved in the pedophile rings or turn their heads knowing full well their friends are involved and do nothing. When a county sheriff can run a pedophile ring for his powerful Republican friends for twenty years and cover up the rapes of the boys every time, including making the report of a DCF Child Abuse Investigator lay dormant for three years and get trashed, they were reported (even before Jeb Bush rewarded him for his services and made him sheriff)

The only way we can ever protect our children from the perverts is to admit, document and report every last pervert no matter who he or she is. Sheriff's, prosecutor's, judges and all. Do your home work on Florida's Straight, Inc. founder Mel Sembler. (He is still around and still operating. He gave millions to Mitt Romney and the Bushes) GW Bush twice appointed him an Ambassador! Do your homework on The Franklin Scandal as well. All of these perverts are still out and about and destroying our youth.

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