Negron drops foster care damage cap

April 7, 2011 Opponents of a move to cap liability for the private nonprofits that oversee children’s services are breathing easier.  When the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services passed the omnibus Medicaid reform bill (SB 1972) Wednesday, Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, agreed to drop a provision that would cap awards for pain and suffering by youth in the child welfare system at $200,000 to $1 million and economic damages at $2 million.  The measure, still a stand-alone bill in both houses, would also lower the amount of liability insurance required of Florida’s 20 community based care agencies, which contract with the Department of Children and Families to provide foster care and adoption services, from $1 million to $500,000.  DCF Sec. David Wilkins on Monday said both he and Gov. Rick Scott support the caps.  But the debate has been bitter at times.  The February murder of 10-year-old Nubia Barahona in which her adoptive parents have been charged has been a recurring theme, given an independent panel’s charge of “fatal ineptitude” by the child welfare system.  But Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood and sponsor of the House version of the measure, HB 1019, has repeatedly warned that lawsuits against the community based care agencies represent “an existential threat.”  Chief among the opposition is Florida’s Children First, an advocacy group with plenty of trial lawyers on its board.  FCF praised Negron but said it will keep fighting other language in the bill that gives sovereign immunity to providers of Medicaid disability services to foster youth – about 30 percent of those in state care, says FCF’s Christina Spudeas.

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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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