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DCF

The state is quietly closing offices that provide help to people applying for food stamps and Medicaid in several Florida counties.

Stethoscope and gavel.
wp paarz/Flikr

Several civil legal aid organizations in Florida have filed a federal class action lawsuit against the agencies that operate the state's Medicaid system.

Department of Children and Family Services Assistant Secretary for Economic Self-Sufficiency Taylor Hatch and Sarasota County Sheriff's Office Colonel Kurt A. Hoffman stand at a podium in the Sheriff's media room to announce a data breach.
Courtesy Sarasota County Sheriff's Office

By Daylina Miller

Thousands of Floridians – including children - who receive public assistance benefits like food stamps and Medicaid had their personal information stolen by a Department of Children and Families employee.

Scott Taps Kapusta To Lead DCF

Aug 29, 2018

Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday named Rebecca Kapusta to serve as interim secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families. 

Scott Calls For Shifting Money To Homeless Programs

Jul 3, 2018

The Florida Department of Children and Families will seek approval from lawmakers to shift $3.1 million to help fill a gap in funding for homeless-prevention services, Gov. Rick Scott’s office said Monday. 

There is still a chance for some people to sign up for D-SNAP disaster food assistance in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

Study: DCF Must Improve Foster Child Care

Jan 23, 2017

The federal agency has given the Florida Department of Children and Families 90 days to devise a plan to improve care for foster children.


Court Backs DCF In Nursing Home Expenses Case

Apr 6, 2016

An appeals court Monday sided with the Florida Department of Children and Families in a dispute about expenses for a woman who went into a Tallahassee nursing home after suffering a spinal-cord injury in an accident.

AHCA, DCF Leaders Get Senate Panel’s Blessing

Feb 17, 2016

A Senate committee signed off Tuesday on the confirmation of seven agency heads, including leaders of some of the state's highest-profile departments.

Department of Children and Families

Florida is on pace to have nearly as many child deaths this year as it did before the overhaul of its child welfare system last year. In about a quarter of those deaths, the Florida Department of Children and Families had prior contact with the family. 

The mother of a girl found dead in a freezer was accused of beating her five children for years in a home that at times was filled with rats and roaches, according to documents released today.

Governor Rick Scott says he wants an additional about $23 million to fund Florida’s child welfare agency—under scrutiny recently for its involvement in two high profile child abuse deaths.

DCF, Senators Eye Ways To Bolster Child Protection

Oct 12, 2015

The chief of the Florida Department of Children and Families told lawmakers Thursday his agency is making progress at carrying out reforms but still has a long way to go.

DCF Reaches Settlement In Bell Killings

Oct 5, 2015

The Florida Department of Children and Families and two private companies have agreed to pay $750,000 to settle legal claims resulting from a mass killing in Gilchrist County last year.

DCF Regional Leader Steps Down

Sep 4, 2015

The Florida Department of Children and Families lost one of its six regional managing directors Wednesday night, when David Abramowitz resigned from his post overseeing child-welfare services in 20 counties in Northeast and North Central Florida.

State Considers Response To 3-Year-Old's Death

May 6, 2015

A report by the state Department of Children and Families on the death of a 3-year-old Hollywood boy is prompting talk among policymakers about the next steps in fixing Florida's troubled child-protection system.

The report --- by what is known as the Critical Incident Rapid Response Team --- details a system-wide breakdown in protecting Ahziya Osceola, whose body was found March 19, hidden in the laundry room of his family's home.

A panel of Florida lawmakers got an update Tuesday on a report, detailing what led to the tragic death of a little girl last month.

In early January, Phoebe Jonchuck’s father allegedly threw her from a bridge during what appears to be a psychotic episode. A detailed report shows the state’s abuse hotline missed two opportunities, warning of Phoebe’s father mental state. And, Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary Mike Carroll says he’s now looking into a number of areas to improve—like tracking the number of screened out calls.

 A father accused of throwing his 5-year-old daughter off of a bridge to her death last week was ordered Monday to undergo a mental health evaluation and was appointed a public defender.

John Jonchuck appeared to refuse to answer questions during the hearing in Pinellas County. When a judge asked Jonchuck at a first appearance hearing last week if he wanted a court-appointed attorney, Jonchuck said he wanted to "leave it in the hands of God."

State child welfare officials are looking into what went wrong in their handling of an investigation of a Florida man who shot himself and his family in North Florida. The Florida Department of Children and Families say they were actually investigating the man weeks before the mass shooting in Bell. So, in the wake of the deadly rampage, could lawmakers be considering another DCF legislative fix?

About a week ago, Don Spirit shot his 28-year-old daughter Sarah and her six kids ranging in age from about three months old baby to 11-years-old.

Two weeks before a Florida man fatally shot his daughter and six grandchildren, someone called the state child abuse hotline, worried that adults were doing drugs in front of the kids, according to documents released Monday.

Authorities said 51-year-old Donald Spirit called 911 from his mobile home Thursday warning he might hurt himself or others. By the time a deputy arrived, Spirit had committed suicide. And he had killed 28-year-old Sarah Spirit and her six children, including an infant girl born in June.

After an embarrassing article appeared in The Miami Herald in September, a regional supervisor for the Department of Children and Families ordered workers not to file required incident reports on the deaths of children who were supposed to be safeguarded by DCF, the Herald reports.

Thousands of former foster youth are gaining health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

The new law extends Medicaid coverage for former foster youth who have aged out of the system and are under the age of 26.

Florida officials say roughly 10,000 former foster youth are eligible. But they aren't automatically enrolled and need to apply for coverage. The provision is aimed at giving former foster youth the same opportunity for health insurance as their peers who are able to stay on their parent's insurance until they turn 26.

Scott Names New DCF Secretary

Apr 28, 2014

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is naming a new secretary for the state's embattled child welfare agency. 

Scott on a Monday will announce that Mike Carroll has been appointed to take over the Department of Children and Families. Scott will make the announcement during a visit with child protective investigators in Jacksonville.

Carroll takes over for interim secretary Esther Jacobo. Jacobo has been in charge of the agency since last July's abrupt resignation of David Wilkins. Her last day is Friday.

As Outrage Grows over Child Deaths, Lawmakers Talk Money

Mar 19, 2014

Legislative leaders are responding to public outrage over a series of child deaths in Florida last year --- and not just in the policy arena. They're also talking about spending more money on the state's troubled child-welfare system.

Committees have been studying the deaths since September and have come up with complex legislation touching a dozen different concerns, from improved safety planning to expanded death reviews to keeping siblings together and medically fragile children in their communities.

Capitol Update: Health, Water Wars

Mar 4, 2014

A rundown on Monday’s top news from Tallahassee:

Health Plan Wants Medicaid Contract Blocked

Amid a bidding dispute, a South Florida health plan is asking an appeals court to block the Agency for Health Care Administration from moving forward with a contract for Medicaid managed-care services.

Panel Stresses Accountability for Community-Based Care Agencies

Feb 21, 2014

The Senate panel charged with reforming Florida's child-welfare system rolled out its latest proposals this week — including increased accountability for the state's 19 community-based care lead agencies.

The proposal comes after a string of children's deaths last year and would require the state Department of Children and Families to develop an "outcome-based accountability system" for child welfare, reporting findings annually to the governor and the Legislature.

Yoselis Ramos / WUSF

Food is more than just a way to nourish ourselves. For some, food can mean a career or an integral part of culture.

For others, like the Burmese refugees in Tampa, food means community and possibly a way of life. The Tampa Bay Gardens off Causeway Boulevard is an opportunity for them to recreate their culture and learn agricultural business.

When Biannela Susana first gave birth, she was a child herself; by the time she was 25 she had four children. Now she has none, and is in Duval County jail awaiting sentencing for manslaughter in the death of her 2-year-old son -- even though she wasn’t the one who killed him. The Tampa Bay Times reports the story of an unfolding tragedy.

Myra Stringfellow

Floridians who receive cash and food assistance are once again able to use their Electronic Benefit Transfer cards  after technology issues at JPMorgan Chase shut down the system for six hours, according to Florida Department of Children and Families.

The outage started at 7 a.m. During that time, stores could opt to manually process transactions up to $40. At Wal-Mart, they could run transactions up to $100, according to DCF.

But at one Wal-Mart in Town 'n' Country, they weren't even processing the transactions manually, said customer service manager Bibti Vora.