Review of 250 reports by DCF investigators accused of lying shows 40 percent falsified - Florida Politics

Review of 250 reports by DCF investigators accused of lying shows 40 percent falsified

Caseworkers at the Florida Department of Children and Families are being forced to shoulder nearly unbelievable workloads, leading some to falsify records, according to a new report by an Orlando TV news station.

A single child protection investigator in the (DCF) had at one point 32 cases with 77 accompanying children, show DCF documents provided to ABC affiliate WFTV.

The state agency tasked with overseeing child welfare in the Sunshine State gave the ABC News Channel 9 Investigates team – which carried out an examination of DCF employee record falsifications, running the segment Wednesday night – records indicating 59 employees had been terminated since sometime in 2014, reporter Daralene Jones said.

There are 267 DCF investigators currently deployed throughout DCF’s Central Florida classification region.

But, as Jones noted, the number didn’t factor in the hundreds of employees contracted by the state through what it calls community-based care agencies (what it commonly refers to as CBCs) and, statewide, through sheriff’s offices.

Of Florida’s 67 counties, six county sheriff’s offices have child protective divisions who take lead on child welfare reports over DCF investigators – of those six, four are in the Tampa Bay area (Manatee, Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco), one is in the Orlando (Seminole County) area. The other is Broward County.

The report cited the average caseload for DCF investigators is currently between 18 to 21. One former DCF investigator Jones spoke with, who remained anonymous for the report, said he’d had 34 cases at one time during a particularly busy point before he was arrested for falsifying reports in portions of some of his investigations. At the time of the arrest, he told Jones, there were 24 open cases involving 36 children.

DCF Secretary Mike Carroll told state legislators in a committee meeting last week he’d like to get that number down to 15.

But is that possible?

A memo dated Feb. 28, 2017, cites March 1 as the day the agency – under Carroll’s directive – is set to streamline management of cases by reducing “excessive documentation,” so child protection investigators can move more swiftly in opening and closing their cases.

As of Wednesday, “less than 4 percent of our CPI workforce is carrying a caseload of more than 30 open investigations and 18 percent of the workforce has a caseload of 25 open investigations,” Carroll said in the memo.

Carroll refused multiple interviews with Channel 9.

 

Les Neuhaus is an all-platform journalist, with specialties in print reporting and writing. In addition to Florida Politics, he freelances as a general-assignment and breaking-news reporter for most of the major national daily newspapers, along with a host of digital media, and a human rights group. A former foreign correspondent across Africa and Asia, including the Middle East, Les covered a multitude of high-profile events in chronically-unstable nations. He’s a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, in which he served as a Security Policeman, and graduated from the University of Tennessee with a B.A. in political science. He is a proud father to his daughter and enjoys spending time with his family.

5 Comments

  1. No surprise here. They did it to ME. I complained to the head of dept who still denied wrongdoing though acknowledged I was not under investigation as I had voluntarily sought assistance through another agency. They need to be in the same position of the receiving end. These people have messed up and broken up more homes and caused more damaged to children than any benefits can outweigh.

  2. What is the education requirement & salary of the “investigators”? I would think this would impact the functioning of the department.

  3. The people we turn to, to trust the welfare of children that WE KNOW are in bad situations…, falsifying could have disastrous repercussions….not something I could live with knowing I had caused a child’s death. Caseloads have to be reduced to a manageable limit.

  4. We’ve seen neglect in investigations of 3 reports for one child. A child being emotionally abused and manipulated and left to her own attendance at 10 years of age on some night who sent messages about suicidal thoughts. Sad situation they are so overloaded. It would be a horrific tragedy if something permanent happened to a child such as suicide because of lack of thorough investigation due to the overload of work. Hopefully articles like these and the accountability will make them aware of the problem and they become more attentive

  5. The Department of Covering up Failures. The problem is this agency refuses to change in any real and meaningful way. Removing children at a record pace, destroying families, offering no preventative or rehabilitative services. The privatization of social services has led to a trail of death and destruction in its path. Why Governor Scott or the state legislature hasn’t taken immediate action to punish those responsible is unconscionable. Maybe the Federal government needs to step in and provide some protection to the children and families left in this wake of destruction.

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