© 2023 WFSU Public Media
WFSU News · Tallahassee · Panama City · Thomasville
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

DCF's Poppell Says Agency Takes Sex Abuse Claims Seriously

Lydell Rawls
Sen. Lauren Book has been an advocate for sex abuse survivors and has also founded a non-profit, Lauren's Kids.

Florida lawmakers are again looking at the Department of Children and Families in the wake of a USA Today investigation that found the agency had a low verification rate for claims of sex abuse by foster parents. The agency's secretary says his recent comments before a Senate panel may have been misinterpreted.

During a Senate hearing earlier this month, DCF Secretary Chad Poppell said some children make false claims, as he explained the department's processes for investigations. The statement angered Senate Children and Families Committee Chairwoman Lauren Book, a sex abuse survivor.

WFSU reported Poppell's comments as well as Book's response. Poppell says his comment may have been misinterpreted.

"You did quote me accurately in your article. I was referring to teenagers. And so, much older children. And I think the chairwoman thought I was speaking about young children. I was not. So, I do want to make it very clear that we are not callous about these allegations. They are taken very seriously," he said.

Book will be overseeing the chamber’s proposals on child welfare and on DCF. The agency is trying to improve its child abuse investigation processes. It’s also grappling with ongoing employee turnover in critical positions.

Follow @HatterLynn

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. 

Find complete bio, contact info, and more stories here.