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Foster Care Abuse Claims

The report finds too many abused children are being abused again in state custody. Even DCF says it can do better.

The state audit shows nine out of every 100 abused kids get abused again when they're put in foster care. The report says the numbers of so-called "re-abuse cases" exceed the state's own goal of no more than seven percent, and are well above the national standard of six percent.

Karen Gievers is an attorney for foster children and a frequent critic of Florida's Department of Children and Families.

"If this happened while the child was still in the parents' home the state would swoop in and say you've proven that you're not a fit parent. The state of Florida is not a fit parent," says Karen Gievers.

The state Department of Children and Families says it is working on their abuse problem and the numbers are improving. Still, DCF agrees even one child re-abused is too many.

Spokesman Bill Spann says better training these days and closer supervision of private contractors have brought the re-abuse numbers down to eight out of every 100 kids.

"This is something that, as I said, we have to concentrate on day in and day out because after all we have to take care of the children and those who are entrusted to our care and that is a large responsibility and one that we take very seriously," says DCF spokesman Bill Spain.

Jeb Bush believes DCF is on the right path.

"We've doubled the money for our child welfare system, we've accelerated the number of children getting out of foster care, we've increased adoptions. We're paying our counselors more, we're using technology better," says Gov. Jeb Bush.

But critics argue until every child is safe din state care, DCF is still not doing its job. DCF hopes it can do a better job of preventing "re-abuse" of children once a long-overdue computer system called "home safenet" is fully functional.


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