Florida Senator Lauren Book (D) issued a letter today to Chad Poppell, Secretary of the Florida Department of Children & Families. As well, the Florida lawmaker copied Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R), his wife Casey DeSantis and legislative leaders from both of Florida’s chambers, asking for information regarding a recent USA Today investigation into Florida’s child welfare system.
The case, leading back to the time when Senator Rick Scott (R) was Governor, argues that foster parents have been accused or convicted of abuse, that children have been put in harm’s way and that there was such an influx of foster child cases that additional space was needed.
Senator Book, who is the current Chair of the Senate Committee on Children, Families, and Elder Affair along with being a survivor of child sex abuse from ages 11 to 16, questions in the letter “gaping holes in Florida’s child welfare system related to policies and practices that have potentially placed or kept children in harm’s way when the Department should have been aware of those dangers.”
The Florida lawmaker requested a copy of DCF’s joint task force with FDLE and child welfare subcontractors that were created in response to USA Today’s investigation, and it states that Book is “committed to ensuring implementation of task force recommendations and drilling further into lapses in policy and judgement that have left vulnerable children needlessly suffering.”
Arguing that this is an example of a “system-wide policy failure,” Book expressed that the “system is overloaded, underfunded, and understaffed,” adding that “the errors made have been egregious.” However, Book asserts that “the State of Florida can do better, and we must – for the sake of our communities and our children, especially those most vulnerable.”
The letter was issued today, and the Department has not yet responded to Senator Book.