Interim DCF Chief Wants New Position To Track Child Deaths

Mike Carroll (Source: DCF)

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – On his first day as interim secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families, Mike Carroll directed his deputies to create a new position to oversee the reporting of child deaths and to track the agency’s response to them.

“This individual must have vast knowledge of our system of care and child protection practices,” Carroll wrote in a memo to Deputy Secretary Pete Digre and Assistant Secretary for Programs Janice Thomas. “They must be given the authority to enact policy change, as needed.”

Carroll noted that he expected the new hire to be recruited and placed within the month. He also directed Digre and Thomas to finalize a plan for incident reporting that will “ensure that leadership is informed immediately following the report of a child death to the (state abuse) hotline.”

The memo follows a Miami Herald investigative series on hundreds of children’s deaths and a report by the newspaper last week that DCF had “clamped down” on transparency as the series was being reported. One administrator reportedly withheld more than 20 child-death reports over a period of months.

DCF denied last week that it had acted improperly.

“Once this vital role in our organization is filled and an improved reporting system is deployed, I expect that data on child deaths will be reported and shared with the public,” Carroll wrote.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.

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Alexia Nechayev

FYS Events & Meeting Chair
(Palm Beach)

Hello, My name is Alexia Nechayev. I am 25 years old and I am an alumna of Florida International University where I received my B.A. in Psychology. My future career goal is to be a Lawyer. I was in care for about one year from age 17 to 18. Prior to entering care, I only knew about the negative stigma regarding foster care and while in care that narrative was unfortunately my experience.

In school I felt like I was on display because my status in care was broadcast to other students and in my placement behavior was leveraged for “privileges” that should be a natural right of all children. Because I did not know my rights I did not know that what I was experiencing was wrong. Today this is exactly why I advocate, because I don’t want this to be the same for other youth who are experiencing foster care.

This is my second year on the FYS Statewide Board and I’m happy to be the Events and Meetings Chair this year because my main goal through advocacy is to reach as many people as possible. My favorite thing as a board member is to see how comfortable members become while working together. The community needs to know that youth in foster care are real people, going through some of the hardest moments of their life and youth need to know that their voice is powerful. I believe that we have to speak up and bring these issues to people’s attention so that they do not forget us. Advocacy, education and consistency is the only way.

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