Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Dec. 1: DCF Abuse Hotline Is Not Something To Be Rationed

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Carol Marbin Miller, a top investigative reporter for The Miami Herald, had a stunning article in Sunday's paper about the abuse hotline run by Florida's Department of Children and Families:


For years and going back to the days when the agency was known as the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services (HRS), there have been serious problems with resources for investigating abuse. Several generations of Florida lawmakers in both major political parties have failed to act to provide necessary funding. Governors have either appointed totally incompetent agency directors, or have had competent directors rejected by the legislature for a variety of reasons.

The conflict and mistakes have led to numerous tragedies. The rationing of abuse calls is the latest example.

Sadly, there's no reason to expect that this Florida Legislature, even if it holds hearings and holds DCF's feet to the fire, will do anything to change the situation. Neither will Gov. Charlie Crist, who is only concentrating these days on how many far-right voters he can woo for his U.S. Senate campaign.

That means the principal responsibility rests with DCF Secretary George Sheldon. He is still reviewing the system. He should listen to child advocates more than to his "quality assurance" team.

The current system of quantity assures that, unfortunately, there's still not enough quality when it comes to DCF investigating abuse.

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