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DCF Head Carroll: We Had 'Systemic Failures' In Latest High Profile Child Deaths

Florida Channel

The head of Florida’s child welfare agency says despite several reforms, his agency failed in preventing the latest high profile child deaths.

“In both these cases, there is no question we had system failures,” said Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary Mike Carroll.

Speaking to a speaking to the Senate Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee Thursday, Carroll said in the case of 2-month-old baby boy Chance Walsh, an anonymous person called the agency’s child abuse hotline a day after he was born. But, the call wasn’t deemed important.

“I’ve listened to that call personally,” said Carroll. “And, that call met the protocol to be accepted. We had enough information to identify who the person was. And, certainly, some of the concerns, she was relaying, although they were mostly hearsay and she couldn’t corroborate much of it. It certainly met the allegation metrics and should have resulted in a call, where somebody went to the hospital to check.”

Meanwhile, Carroll says his agency is conducting a review into the death of 11-year-old Janiya Thomas, presumed to have been found in a relative’s freezer. Much like the first case, DCF had an extensive history with the family of Janiya, who had four other siblings.

“When we exited that case, all five children were present and accounted for, and we don’t know exactly when Janiya went missing,” added Carroll. “But, it could be as long as a year. How could an 11-year-old in this state be missing for a year and nobody knows about it? There’s something wrong.”

Still, some lawmakers defended Carroll and his agency, saying they're still impressed with the job Carroll is doing so far.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.