The blood of 477 innocent children in Florida is crying out to God (INNOCENTS LOST ). Good and honest people are outraged with the failures that have led to the lost of these innocent lives. Most people are pointing fingers and blame the Department of Children and Families (DCF) for their deaths. But, I believe that DCF is actually being used as an scapegoat to distract the public from the actual culprits of this mess. We can not point the finger to DCF alone. The root of the problem is much broader. DCF’s mishandlings are just a symptom of a much bigger problem, the complete failure of our Family Court system to protect our minor children. As a matter of fact, I believe that we have people responsible for this mess at all levels of the Family Court system, from law makers to law “brakers,” from some Family Court judges to some greedy family attorneys.
Based on my own personal experience with a dysfunctional Family Court system, I believe that the root of the problem is greed, so just pouring more money into the system, as some are recommending, would actually make matters worst. I do not believe that just pouring money into DCF is the solution to preventing more children’s deaths while on the state of Florida’s watch. The problem is that just pouring money into the system is like trying to pour water into a bucket with huge holes underneath it. Before we put more water (money) into the leaking bucket, we need to identify from where the bucket is leaking, fix the leaks, and then pour water, if necessary. Otherwise, we will be just wasting valuable resources. Let’s face it: we have a huge problems in our hands and the problem does not involve DCF alone. Based on my personal experience with this subject, here are some of the leaks I have identified, and suggestions on how to fix them:
1. DCF investigators are overwhelmed with the great number of false cases. Some unscrupulous people use DCF as a form of harassment tool. For instance, after being the victim of 5 different false DCF calls, and even losing an unborn 8-weeks baby in great part because of these false accusations, I came to realize how easy some individuals abuse the system and how these false accusations are costing DCF and Floridians millions of dollars of our tax money.
Solution: start cracking down on false DCF calls/accusations. These false accusations cause a huge burden on the system, and prevent DCF case workers from properly dedicating their time and efforts in true abuse cases. With so many false calls, it is very difficult for case worker to dedicate their time and efforts on preventing more innocent children’s deaths.
2. DCF workers are pressured from every side to please a number of people who work with them (Family Court attorneys, judges, etc..). What DCF does or does not do creates jobs for these individuals, so DCF workers have to please them in order to keep their jobs.
Solution: Create an independent committee of citizens to help overlook DCF’s work (no attorneys or any other “professionals” with possible conflicts of interest accepted, however). I am an American Board Certified Family Physician, father of 4 minor children, and Sunday school teacher who deals with children on a daily basis, and I would gladly volunteer to be part of this committee. I also know of many other law-abiding professionals who would love to serve as well.
3. I believe that most DCF investigators/workers are good hearted individuals who truly want to help the children, who do not want to see any more children’s deaths and who are frustrated with what is going; however, they do not have a way to voice their concerns without running the risk of being targeted and running the risk of losing their jobs.
Solution: create an internal DCF whistle-blowing (improvement) hot line to allow DCF investigators/workers an anonymous way to point anomalies they may have encountered. These calls should be fully investigated and presented to the independent committee of citizens overlooking DCF’s work.
4. Some unscrupulous attorneys and “professional” are abusing the children’s suffering to enrich themselves. These attorneys believe that it is not what you know or what the truth is, but who they know, and how they can twist the truth that determines the outcomes in Family Court cases. They are making millions off of the suffering of children and their parents.
Solution: crack down on attorneys and other “professionals” who may be abusing the Family Court system. The DCF whistle-blowing hot line will help identify some of these individuals.
5. Some Family Court Judges fail to use common sense and selectivity enforce the law for their own interest or that of their friends. In a recent radio interview, for instance, I heard the testimony of a grandfather who was told by one of these judges that “children do not have rights”, and based on this judge’s lack of common sense, ended up making a decision that harmed the child. Or, as it happened in my own case, some Judges put the interest of their friends over the interest of the children and end up hurting the very own children they have sworn to protect. They are not accountable to the public, but to their attorney friends, so as long as they give the impression of doing things lawfully, they make sure no one runs against them in elections, and they keep getting re-elected term after term. These judges are not accountable to the people or the best interest of the children, but to a small minority of individuals that helped them to be in office, and as long as they don’t not upset those who put them in power, they feel that they can get away with all forms of abuse of authority and power.
Solutions: First, we can not just allow any judge in Family Court. Judges are usually rotated from one division to another in the court system. Some judges, unfortunately, do not have the experience or the training to deal with the delicate issues in Family Court. Only those judges with proven records to work for the best interest of the children should be allowed to rotate there.
However, I believe that the most important step to fix our dysfunctional family court system must start at the top, beginning with judges being accountable to the people and to the best interest of the children they are supposed to protect. To make sure they are accountable, whether someone is running against them or not, judges should appear for a confidence vote when their time for re-election comes up. This would give the people the opportunity to voice their concerns at the ballots when a judge’s decisions are not aligned with the people’s best interests. This simple measure will encourage judges to carefully consider their decisions to uphold the law, and not their own interests or that of their friends.
Update: I just came from the Miami Herald Town Hall meeting on 4/17/14, and I realized that these individuals may mean well, but that they keep on looking at the problem from the same old angle, coming with the same solution, but some how expecting different results. They blame lack of funding as the main cause for these children’s deaths, and nothing could be further from the truth. They are actually feeding the beast that caused these children’s death, the love of money, greed. Their proposed solutions are just more of the same, but they somehow expect different results. As one of my heroes put it: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein.
These individuals just plan to put more money into the bucket without fixing or even acknowledging the real reasons that have caused this disaster we now see in a severely dysfunctional Family Court system. When I was given the opportunity to speak, I was cut off, and given the politically correct answer that there is already an independent committee of citizens overlooking DFC’s work, namely: http://www.myflfamilies.com/service-programs/community-based-care. After I came home and search for it, this is what I found: “It combines the outsourcing of foster care and related services to competent service agencies with an increased local community ownership of service delivery and design.” The answer provided is not an independent committee of citizens overlooking DCF’s work, but an outsourcing group! A group basically in charged of better diving DCF’s pie, and not independently overlooking their work. What a joke. No wonder innocent children keep on dying while on Florida’s welfare care. We citizens need to unite and not let this nonsense to continue.
“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
“The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls.”- Elizabeth Cady Stanton
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”-Margaret Mead