Connect with us

Headlines

Chris Latvala’s ‘Jordan’s Law’ easily clears Florida House

The bill would provide protections for at-risk children in the state’s child welfare system.

The Florida House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill that would add protections for children under 6 in the state’s child welfare system.

Jordan’s Law (HB 315) is named for Jordan Belliveau, the 2-year-old Largo boy whose body was found in the woods behind the Largo Sports Complex after his mother, Charisse Stinson, struck him in the head and left him for dead last year.

The boy’s death came just 24 hours after caseworkers warned Stinson her son would again be removed from her care if she did not straighten up her act.

Had law enforcement and caseworkers been more aware of problems, and had Jordan not been returned to his parents’ care in the first place, his death might have been avoided, Rep. Chris Latvala told Florida Politics when he first authored the bill.

Jordan’s law would set a 15 child minimum caseload for child welfare workers “when possible” to ensure more attentive services. It would also streamline child abuse reporting between caseworkers and law enforcement to better ensure at-risk children are protected from potentially dangerous caretakers.

The bill would also require special training among caseworkers and law enforcement to identify potential brain injuries to youngsters.

“A baby or toddler can have a brain injury or a head injury and no one knows about it because they are so small and it’s something you don’t necessarily see from the outside,” Latvala previously told Florida Politics. “Babies that get head injuries at a young age, it will affect them throughout their lives.”

Before filing his bill, Latvala spoke with doctors who, after reviewing Jordan Belliveau’s medical history, were able to identify previous head trauma without having physically evaluated the young boy.

Following Jordan Belliveau’s death, there was a spate in child welfare cases that led to death, including 4-year-old Je’Hyrah Daniels who drowned in the Hillsborough River after her mother left her there. In 2015, Five-year-old Phoebe Jonchuck’s father threw her from the Dick Misener bridge near the Skyway after the girl was repeatedly in and out of the child protective system. Jonchuck was this month found guilty of murdering his daughter despite his defense team’s assertion that he was mentally unfit to be charged.

The bill would not have a significant impact on the budget, according to the bill analysis.

Florida Sen. Darryl Rouson sponsored a similar bill in the Senate.

 

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

Sign up for Sunburn

Receive our team's agenda-setting morning read of what's hot in Florida politics. Delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday.

Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
Email: Peter@FloridaPolitics.com
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Connect
Sign up for Sunburn

Receive our team's agenda-setting morning read of what's hot in Florida politics. Delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday.