The start of the next lawmaking session is still months away, but Hollywood Democratic Senator Eleanor Sobel said she sees the Tuesday meeting as a way to give the state a jump on fixing how the Department of Children and Families works to protect the state’s children.
“The solutions we are looking for are not easy solutions. Problem solving will require all stakeholders working together to address the way we investigate potential risks to children,” Sobel said.
The panel heard from members of the public who said the department needs everything from more transparency to more funding to more workers who make the DCF a career instead of a temporary stop. And interim DCF secretary Esther Jacobo said she’s giving consideration to each of those suggestions, adding the more eyes reviewing DCF work, the better.
“And as I looked primarily at some of the things that may have gone wrong in some of the cases that we have discussed, it seems that much of it has to do with missing some red flags, perhaps. Some of it has to do with perhaps the isolation of the protective investigator in making the decisions,” Jacobo said.
Jacobo said her department is compiling a report on every child in the system who has died this year of verified abuse. Once that’s completed she said they’ll ask Casey Family Programs for help reviewing what went wrong in those cases. Reports show more than 20 children who’ve had previous contact with the department have died since April.