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DCF Chief grilled over agency's handling of Barahona case

By Sascha Cordner


Tallahassee, FL – Florida's Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins went before lawmakers on Tuesday to give an update on what his agency is doing since the tragic death of a 10-year-old girl and the abuse of her twin brother in their care. As Sascha Cordner reports, a Senate panel questioned him about his agency's involvement.

Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee members grilled Wilkins for 45 minutes about how the abuse and murder of Nubia Barahona managed to slip by his agency. Wilkins claimed the girl's caseworker, "did not own the case." That statement did not sit well with Republican Senator Ronda Storms of Brandon, who chairs the committee:

"What the Blankety-blank does that mean you're not owning a case. You have these two children. The little girl was practically peeling paint off the wall to eat. She was starving! They were afraid of these people. And, everybody at the school was saying it! And, the most we can come up with is the case manager was not owning the case. What does that mean?"

Wilkins says the case exposed a lot of operational problems at his agency. He says DCF has since started sharing more information among caseworkers and has a more intense recruiting and training process.