Overhaul DCF to Save Kids

It's time to abolish or overhaul the Florida Department of Children and Families, the worst government agency in the history of the state. Unless Gov. Rick Scott takes drastic action, more kids will end up dead because of DCF's incompetence.

The latest tragedy involves 4-year-old Antwan Hope, who was found dead in his mother Destene Simmons' Coral Springs apartment June 10. DCF should have been familiar with Simmons, because a year ago she reportedly took the child to a motel and tried to smother him with a pillow. Yet despite the objections of Antwan's guardian ad litem, DCF wanted to return the little boy to Simmons.

Unfortunately, Antwan is just one of the many helpless victims DCF sentences to death. Last October 16, DCF case workers ignored a call from a Hallandale Beach police officer reporting claims by Brittney Sierra that she hadn't seen her 1-year-old son, Dontrell Melvin, in 15 months. The agency never bothered to investigate. A week later, police found the boy's skeletal remains in the backyard of the home in which his parents used to live.

C. Stiles

Dontrell's case occurred less than two years after the death of Nubia Barahona, murdered by her adoptive parents who repeatedly fooled DCF workers into dismissing abuse complaints. And who can forget Rilya Wilson, who prosecutors say was killed by her caregiver, Geralyn Graham. A DCF caseworker didn't discover Rilya was no longer with Graham until 2002, two years after the woman was granted custody.

I've personally seen DCF's failure. Several years ago, a relative showed up at my house after her mom viciously attacked her, leaving her with two black eyes. The police came to my home, took her statement, and referred the case to DCF — which did nothing.

Instead of worrying about drug-testing welfare recipients or quashing Obamacare, Scott should focus on cleaning house at DCF. The agency is a joke. It's set up to pass the buck. Let law enforcement agencies and prosecutors bust child abusers.

But Scott won't do it because a majority of the children DCF is supposed to protect come from poor, minority families — the last people the governor wants to help.

Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1

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Continuing from below: So FrankD4, not ALL parents fall into your comment that we 'shouldn't have had children'. And HoHo - I am not an abusive parent, so clearly, not ALL parents in this type of situation are bad parents. Simply put, I had been telling the State he needed help, for over 2 years and that I was not equipped for his issues, but they didn't believe me. Now I'm the bad guy. So LET'S FIX IT!!! Who can I write, besides our Gov. Scott? Who will TRULY listen? The DCF "investigator" is truly too emotionally involved. I don't know if it's because my son has a lot of potential and a very high IQ, but either way, they stepped in way too late and are now trying to take my son away from me permanently. OUR SYSTEM IS BOTCHED!


Let me give the OP a high five on this article. I am going through this with my son. Since he's been in their "care" because his guardian abandoned him. (His life of crime and drugs were NOT coming back into this house). He was placed in a temporary foster home. At the time she was my best friend. All the time, I warned her and her husband that he would show his true colors and all the while I was being painted as abandoning my child, choosing a clean, sober life over allowing my child to come into it without the help he needed, all the while being given the middle finger by my friends and son for being such a horrible mother. And telling them my son was only telling one side, the side that made him look like the victim. So since then, he DID show his true colors; got drunk at their house, stole their new vehicle, drove to the beach, got drunker, left the beach, got in an accident, got arrested, blew a 4.75 then got placed into a foster home. That lasted maybe 2 weeks.

Now, he's a runaway. DCF didn't contact me for 2 days after the fact. They didn't even call the center for missing and exploited children... I DID. DCF is inept at best, oh and let me mention they have a warrant out for MY arrest for neglect. Meanwhile, my minor son is in the streets of a Northwest Florida town dodging DCF and the sheriff.

Not all parents are

drakemallard topcommenter

“FINALLY! Someone that actually makes any sense”


DCF is not to blame here as DCF was privatized 12 years ago to private so called "lead" agencies who are supposed to implement community soutions.  Sadly, the lead agency called Childnet in Broward has squaandered resources for the sole purpose being number one on a scorecard that measures efficiency and cost savings and not the safety of a child.  We houses children in offices (like the old DCF), that are filthy, infested with bugs, and serve fast food and pursue reunification with bad parents to save a buck.  The leadership is extremely poor with a CEO who yells at all the staff, and a COO who has pending sexual harrassment lawsuits.   Why this all has not been reported to the media leaves me as an employee perplexted. 

frankd4 topcommenter

the answer is these PARENTs shouldn't have these KIDs in the first place = problem solved

frankd4 topcommenter

only SOUTH CAROLINA is worse that FLORIDA in protecting AT RISK throw-away children

the BASIS of the situation is parents who have kids ONLY TO QUALIFY themselves for government support including section 8 housing and food-stamps and financial funding - once those benfits are secured by having the child,  that child is almost immediately abandonded by the parent,  with NONE of that government assistance going for the child = period

unfortunately these kids have no future so no one cares and certainly DCF is no match for the problem

Exiliado topcommenter

For once I almost agree with Mr. Campbell. DCF is an embarrassment.

I can't forget how DCF spent hundreds of thousands in a legal battle to steal a young girl from her Cuban father, while neglecting other children who really need help.  The agency needs to be dismantled, and everyone fired from top to bottom.

But there must be some kind of alternative. Maybe the first step would be to educate. There are neglected children only because there are irresponsible parents. The second step would be to really prosecute and incarcerate all those criminals who neglect and abuse children, minorities or not.


-WAT?  dissolve DCF but not replace it?   =  DUMB. 

and lets put the blame where it belongs.  Abusive Parents.  

Sometimes Agencies make mistakes.  deadly ones. So how about suggestion to fix the problem? 

Throwing rocks is not a real solution.  lets fix the problem.      How about parenting classes.  or supervision by other trusted family, or video monitoring.  


I like your comment regarding DCF. DCF is needed anyone who thinks otherwise doesn't have a clue. Please check out www.thedepartmentbook.com if you are interested in real DCF reform.

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