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Overhaul DCF to Save Kids

C. Stiles

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.

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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