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Department Of Children And Families Head Wilkins Resigns

Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins has stepped down. Wilkins’ resignation comes amid controversy the agency’s mishandling of cases led to the deaths of four children between May and June.

Governor Rick Scott’s office announced Wilkins’ departure in a statement saying the Secretary has decided to in its words, “pursue opportunities in the private sector.”  Esther Jacobo has been appointed interim agency secretary. She was most recently a regional DCF director for Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.

Wilkins attempted to reform a system which had led to the deaths of children before he took over, but said earlier this month there’s no guarantee a child will never die on the agency’s watch again:

“We are dealing with dysfunctional families. On average a child dies every day in Florida from abuse and neglect. Most people don’t realize that, but that’s the reality that is happening," he said.

The Department of Children and Families recently announced it will retrain more than 5,000 case workers to better manage reports of child abuse. 

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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