Department of Children and Families



This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee, Michel Martin is away. Coming up, we talk with actor Ziyi Zhang about her latest film "The Grandmaster," and women in kung fu. That's in a moment. But we start our program today in Florida. At least 20 children who were on the radar of child protective services have died there since April, that's according to an investigation by the Miami Herald. And the question of course is, why and how do we stop more deaths from occurring?

Town Hall On Child Deaths: 'Is Anbody Here Not Outraged?'

Aug 21, 2013
Emily Michot / Miami Herald Staff

With lawmakers from Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties on hand, hundreds of people turned out Tuesday night for a town-hall meeting about an epidemic of deaths in recent months that has rocked the state's child-welfare system.

At DCF, An Untold Epidemic Of Abuse, Neglect And Death

Aug 19, 2013
Marsha Halper / Miami Herald file

On the day before she died, Jewel Re’nee Howard sat on the porch, in her grandmother’s lap, having her hair twisted into ponytails made pretty with pink and purple beads. She played outside the home with neighborhood children, ate noodles, talked and giggled, as she had so many days before, about her dream of becoming a princess.

Less than 15 hours later, Jewel was dead — her liver torn and mangled, ribs crushed, her tiny body bruised and bleeding internally.

Joanna C Dobson / Creative Commons/Flickr

The U.S. Department of Justice charges that Florida denies fragile, disabled children any option but nursing homes.

Timeline Of Deaths Leading Up To DCF Leader's Resignation

Jul 26, 2013
Miami Herald

David Wilkins, Florida's top child welfare and social services administrator resigned July 18 amid an escalating scandal over the recent deaths of four small children who had a history of involvement with child-abuse investigators.

Read more of the original Tampa Bay Times article here


Miami Herald

After weeks under fire following the deaths of four children, David Wilkins on Thursday abruptly resigned as secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Gov. Rick Scott said in a statement that Wilkins had stepped down "to pursue opportunities in the private sector and to provide more attention to his foundation." 

Scott also tapped as interim secretary Esther Jacobo, the regional managing director for DCF's southern region, which serves Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. 

Gina Jordan/WLRN

The toughest child abuse reporting law in the nation went into effect in Florida last October, and the state has launched a campaign to raise awareness about the legal obligation to report suspected abuse.

The new law was introduced in response to the scandal at Penn State University.  Former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was convicted of molesting children years after the abuse was discovered by staffers.

If a similar situation happens in Florida, the institution could now be fined a million dollars for each person who failed to report the abuse.