Foster Care Reform NOW
A USA Today investigation reveals disturbing allegations of unreported abuse endured by children in Florida’s child welfare system. The report claims to review nearly 5,000 calls to the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) abuse hotline from educators, health care professionals, daycare workers, neighbors, and others regarding the treatment of children in Florida state care.
The shocking finding is that none of these cases count towards what Florida publicly reports each year about the number of serious abuse, neglect, and abandonment allegations in its foster care system. This implies that once children in Florida state care a child is no longer consider to be in serious harm. DCF considers cases involving children that are already in the system to be referrals. So, this means the “potential repercussion” is a license violation that may call for an administrative review.
The USA Today investigation finds calls accusing foster parents and group home workers of hitting children. Other claims include children being denied medical care, while some are sent to school hungry, dirty, or dressed in ill-fitting clothing.
Currently, the federal government does not definition abuse. This leaves room for each state to define abuse for themselves. Standards for abuse vary greatly with some language used to diminish real cases.
USA Today reviewed reports given to the news outlet by a government official. The spreadsheet identified 4,300 abuse hotline complaints involving foster and group homes.
Other child experts and attorneys who reviewed the documents confirmed that the complaints filed are the kinds of acts of abuse and neglect that would get a child removed from their biological parents. So why aren’t we holding foster and group homes to the same standards?
So clearly, children in foster care need our help. We are continuing to monitor this story and hope more people question what is going on in Florida. We know from first-hand experience that the vast majority of foster families and workers are amazing. They give so much because they truly believe in supporting children. No one wants children in foster care to experience any abuse. Let’s work together towards speaking up and advocating for foster care reform.