A new report shows the state DCF is doing a better job of protecting Florida's kids, marking a major turn around, but as at least one vocal critic fears the report isn't telling the whole story.
A report on the Department of Children and Families' Secretary Jerry Regier's first 18 months in office shows dramatic improvement at the agency. DCF has reduced a backlog of abuse investigations from 35- thousand down to 3,000 and hired 376 employees to help the agency keep a better eye on kids at risk.
DCF spokesman Bill Spann says employee turnover is also down by more than 50 percent, and as a result.
The DCF report also shows adoption of foster kids up more than 60 percent just since November, when Jerry Regier kicked off an effort to recruit parents and streamline the adoption process.
But not all the numbers are good. DCF is still unable to locate nearly 500 children under its care.
DCF critic Karen Gievers worries the agency is just shuffling numbers instead of making real improvements.
Karen Gievers, children's advocacy foundation, said, “we should be focusing on the bottom line, what good are we doing for children, not how good is our bureaucracy and by the way, we still can't find 489 children that we took from their parents. But that's just a small thing. We have this progress report that says we're doing better. Personally, it's hard to buy it.”
And the face of the still-missing Rilya Wilson remains a constant reminder of problems at DCF that remain unsolved.
DCF now has a total of more than 49,000 children and young adults under state supervision. That's up from when Jerry Regier took office in September of 2002.
If you are interested in more information on adopting a foster child, call1-800-96-adopt. To report a case of suspected abuse, call 1-800-96-abuse.