FDLE agents have arrested Edgar Marrero, 44, of Port St. Lucie, on charges of official misconduct, falsifying records and grand theft. [Read more…] about Former DCF contractor charged with official misconduct
department of children and families
Agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement have arrested Doreece J. Hines, 31, of 1333 Sunset Blvd., Daytona Beach, on two counts of falsifying records.
Hines was employed as a child protective investigator for the Department of Children and Families. She has been terminated.
In April 2017, agents launched an investigation into allegations that Hines had falsified documents in the Florida Safe Families Network. Hines was assigned a case involving a child with bruises on the child’s body. The investigation revealed Hines documented she made a visit to the child’s home and spoke with a parent to determine if the child was in present danger. It was later found no visit to the child’s home or conversation took place. Hines entered incorrect information in her case notes and later tried to change those notes.
Hines also failed to follow protocol and notify law enforcement and the child protection team about her case.
She was booked into the Volusia County Jail. The Office of the State Attorney, 7th Circuit, will prosecute.
TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Children and Families’ (DCF) will open the first Disaster SNAP (or Food for Florida) sites this week and reminds Floridians seeking disaster food assistance of important details prior to visiting a Food for Florida site. To qualify for the Food for Florida Disaster Food Assistance Program, individuals must have lived or worked in one of the 48declared counties on September 5, and NOT be a customer in the regular food assistance program.
Individuals and authorized representatives are strongly encouraged to pre-register online. Pre-registration is a brief application process that adds your information to the system in advance of your local site visit. This application is available here, at the Food for Florida website. Pre-registering on the day prior to visiting your local Food for Florida site will allow for faster processing of your application on-site.
All Food for Florida dates and locations will be posted on the Site Locations link on the Food for Florida website. Service at site locations will be organized by day according to the first letter of your last name. Each site’s alphabetical serving order is listed on the site locations webpage. This program is not first come, first serve. Everyone’s application will be taken and processed at their appropriate county location.
One EBT card per eligible household will be issued so only the applicant needs to visit the local Food for Florida site in person. Additional individuals attending may contribute to longer lines and extended service times.
To make your visit to your local Food for Florida site as convenient as possible, remember these important items:
- Fill out the initial application the day before visiting your local site via the pre-registration link at the Food for Florida website.
- Only one applicant needs to visit the site in person as only one EBT card will be issued per eligible household.
- Visit the local site on the indicated date for your last name.
- Current food assistance participants should not visit the local Food for Florida site or pre-register; additional September/October benefits will be added to your EBT card within five days of your county’s Food for Florida site opening.
Food for Florida sites will open across the state over the next five weeks to serve eligible Floridians who lived or worked in the 48 counties FEMA declared for Individual Assistance following damage from Hurricane Irma. Sites are opening on specific dates based on the infrastructure required to support a Food for Florida operation, such as venue size, power, and accessibility, as well as community resources available to purchase and safely store food.
For more information, visit the Food for Florida website.
DCF TO INITIATE DISASTER SNAP FOOD ASSISTANCE PROGRAM IN 48 COUNTIES
~Food for Florida sites will assist individuals and families recovering from Hurricane Irma~
TALLAHASSEE – The Department of Children and Families (DCF), in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), will implement the Food for Florida Disaster Food Assistance Program in 48 counties to assist victims of Hurricane Irma. Details on local Food for Florida sites will be posted on the Food for Florida website as they become available.
“We are working around the clock to provide relief to those affected by Hurricane Irma damage,” said DCF Secretary Mike Carroll. “We will continue to stand side-by-side with those who need us as they get back on their feet. We encourage those in need of food assistance to pre-register if possible through the website so we can quickly serve those in need.”
To qualify for the Food for Florida Disaster Food Assistance program, applicants must have lived or worked in one of the counties declared for FEMA Individual Assistance on September 5, and not be receiving food assistance through the regular Food Assistance Program. Additionally, eligible individuals and families must have suffered a disaster-related loss, such as damage to their homes or self-employment property, loss of food, reduction or loss of income, or have incurred other disaster related expenses. Applicants must also be financially eligible. DCF will provide or mail Electronic Benefits Transfer cards to eligible individuals and families to use at authorized USDA food retailers. The program counts only income and expenses from September 5 through October 4, 2017.
Food for Florida pre-registration will be available on the Food for Florida website and open for people in need of food assistance in eligible counties through October 30. Food for Florida sites in Pinellas, Bradford, Union, Alachua, Lake, Sumter, and Citrus counties will open next week. Individuals who lived or worked in these counties can pre-register beginning today at 2:00 p.m. Pre-registration for other eligible counties will be available prior to the local sites opening. Individuals, families, and authorized representatives that pre-register must still visit a Food for Florida site, listed on the Food for Florida website, to be interviewed. Individuals may also apply at the Food for Florida site locations without pre-registering. You must have a valid Florida Driver License or Florida Identification card.
Visit the Food for Florida website for more information on pre-registration, site locations, and hours of operation.
The Florida Department of Children and Families, along with its community partners, have joined together to honor foster families during National Foster Care Month. This annual celebration recognizes all foster parents, foster family members, volunteers, mentors, policymakers, child welfare professionals, and others in the foster-care community, who play a significant role in enhancing the lives of children and youth in foster care.
“So many children have a place they call home because of the selfless acts of current foster parents,” Secretary Mike Carroll said. “There are so many opportunities to participate in the foster care system, and I encourage you to take the first step and contact a local community partner to see how you can get involved.”
As of January 2017, Florida has 23,596 children placed with relatives, family friends, family foster homes and group homes. Many foster parents pursue additional training to become medical and therapeutic foster parents. In addition to those children in foster care, there are 899 children are available for adoption.
Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) Director Barbara Palmer said, “Providing quality foster care to children in need, including those with disabilities, is vital to our state. In celebration of Foster Care Month, APD will be launching a campaign to encourage more families to become foster families for children with developmental disabilities. APD’s Family Care Council members will be available to these new foster families to offer advice and their experience in rearing children who have disabilities.”
Many of these foster children have been removed from their homes by no fault of their own, but because they have experienced abuse or neglect and cannot safely remain with their parents. Foster parents change lives by offering love, compassion, and hope to some of Florida’s most vulnerable.
Community-Based Care (CBC) lead agencies throughout the state work to recruit, license and match foster parents with children in need of short and long-term homes. Each CBC works to address the unique needs of their communities in recruiting foster parents.
For more information on becoming a foster parent visit http://www.myflfamilies.com/service-programs/foster-care or contact the CBC in your area at http://myflfamilies.com/service-programs/community-based-care/cbc-map.
The Florida Department of Children and Families’ (DCF) Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health today announced an update to the implementation of the $27 million federal State Targeted Response the Opioid Crisis Grant. This follows Governor Rick Scott signing Executive Order 17-146 on May 3rd, declaring a statewide Public Health Emergency and directing the immediate draw down of grant funds through the federal State Targeted Response the Opioid Crisis Grant.
“Following Governor Scott’s Executive Order, DCF staff have worked diligently to ensure this important funding is allocated to communities and services are available to individuals as soon as possible,” said DCF Secretary Mike Carroll. “We are hopeful that the services this grant will make available will save and change lives throughout the state, and that the programs it establishes over the next two years will help end the tragic opioid epidemic.”
More than $17 million of the State Targeted Response the Opioid Crisis Grant has been allocated to local communities to provide direct treatment and services to individuals with opioid use disorders. Nearly $3.8 million will go toward expanding Vivitrol treatment in local communities through the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association. A contract amendment is underway to expand this service that is currently provided by FADAA, including filling gaps throughout the state where there is greater need for Vivitrol treatment.
DCF is also in the process of purchasing the first batch of more than 3,600 Naloxone kits to distribute to local treatment centers statewide, as well as to organizations that have direct contact with individuals with opioid use disorders, to provide to people at risk of witnessing or experiencing an overdose. Throughout the next twelve months it is anticipated that more than 15,000 additional Naloxone kits will be purchased and distributed to local treatment centers.
The local grant allocations, which are directed through the Managing Entities, are determined based on each county’s assessed need. These local funds will be distributed monthly and will be used for medication-assisted treatment with methadone and buprenorphine. DCF will complete meetings with the seven Managing Entities this week to review grant implementation expectations. Based on Executive Order 17-146 and the initial distribution of funds to the Managing Entities, services to individuals will be available through local providers by June 1. More information on these Managing Entities and their allocation distribution in available in the table below.
Additionally, as part of the grant, behavioral health consultants and peer specialists will be hired to support all six DCF regions. Consultants will work directly with child protective investigators to support investigatory activity that relates to caregivers with opioid use disorders. Peer specialists will assist local providers with quality improvement initiatives related to developing a recovery-oriented system of care. The advertisements, available via jobs.myflorida.com, close this week.
The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) will begin a two-day disaster exercise of the Food for Florida program today in Deerfield Beach. More than 150 employees will participate in the exercise to test equipment and ensure the department is ready to quickly distribute food benefits to eligible families in the aftermath of a disaster.
“During the 2016 hurricane season, the department was able to respond by implementing the early release of benefits to our current food assistance customers,” Secretary Mike Carroll said. “This exercise allows us to take a look at how we can best meet the needs of more Floridians in a time of crisis.”
June 1st will mark the official start of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season, which lasts through the end of November. Although predictions call for a below average season, Floridians are reminded that it only takes one storm to impact a community.
The Food for Florida program offers emergency food assistance to eligible victims of hurricanes or other types of disasters when a community experiences a disaster reaching the level of critical need and receives a Presidential disaster declaration from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The last time DCF received this authority to activate the program was in 2005, when Hurricane Wilma struck Florida. DCF has since streamlined the application and preregistration process using satellite and other wireless technologies. The changes have positioned DCF to better serve disaster-stricken Floridians and identify individuals who try to fraudulently obtain benefits during a time of crisis.
Everyone in Florida should have a disaster plan and supply kit, and now is the time to review, recycle, and restock. The Florida Division of Emergency Management has created an easy way to build a family or small business emergency plan at their website. Children can also participate in several activities related to emergency planning at www.kidsgetaplan.com.
For more information about the Food for Florida program visit www.MyFLFamilies.com/fff.
Agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested Vanessa Arias, 33, of 1355 Springfield Street, Kissimmee, on charges of official misconduct and falsification of records.
Arias is a former employee with Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services, a sub-contractor of the Department of Children and Families. She was assigned as a caseworker.
During an investigation, FDLE agents found that Arias documented she had visited a home in Kissimmee on January 8, 2015, to check on the welfare of several children. She reported the children were “free from any visible signs of abuse/neglect with all their basic needs being met at this time.” Approximately a week later, officers with the Kissimmee Police Department went to the home regarding a report of child neglect. It was later determined that Arias had falsified her report and had not returned more than a dozen calls from two of the children in the home.
“This is a sad case of vulnerable children reaching out to someone in a position to help them, but instead they were ignored,” said Special Agent in Charge Danny Banks of FDLE’s Orlando Region. “Thankfully, law enforcement was called and an investigation was launched.”
Arias was booked into the Osceola County Jail on Friday on a $2,000 bond. The Office of the State Attorney, 9th Circuit, will prosecute.
Governor Rick Scott’s “Fighting for Florida’s Future” Budget proposes $3.1 billion for the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to continue to keep vulnerable families safe and expand community behavioral health services. This funding will also support resident and staff safety at the state’s mental health treatment facilities.
Governor Scott said, “There is no greater investment in Florida than in our families and I am proud that the ‘Fighting for Florida’s Future’ Budget includes more than $3 billion for DCF. We need to do all we can to support those who are most in need, including vulnerable children and the individuals and their families who are affected by mental illness and substance abuse. The investments in this year’s budget serve to even further strengthen our commitment to improving coordination of behavioral health services and keeping families safe so our children and grandchildren can thrive in Florida.”
DCF Secretary Mike Carroll said, “At the heart of all we do is protecting those who cannot protect themselves, and among the most vulnerable are children and those struggling with behavioral health issues. I am grateful that the Governor has once again recommended a budget that makes them a priority and continues to improve the services and support they need to be safe and healthy and lead their best lives.”
Governor Scott’s “Fighting for Florida’s Future” Budget includes:
- $12.6 million in Community Behavioral Health Services which include
- $2.7 million to support community behavioral health projects in Alachua, Pinellas, and Broward counties as a result of Executive Order 15-175 which Governor Scott signed in 2015; and
- $9.9 million to enhance care coordination, provide housing solutions and increase community forensic multidisciplinary teams for nonviolent offenders.
- $3 million to to add four additional Community Action Treatment Teams for Children
- $1.8 million to add four additional Family Intensive Treatment Teams$1.25 million to add an additional FACT Team (Forensic Assertive Community Treatment) Team in Broward County
- $6.3 million to improve treatment and recovery programs at the state mental health treatment facilities supported by 90 new staff
- $21.4 million for children’s safety in the child welfare system, including:
- $6.2 million for maintenance adoption subsidies and adoption assistance;
- $14.2 million for community-based care (CBC) lead agencies, including safety management services and case management workload to support 69 additional case management staff;
- $1 million for services for child victims of human trafficking.
Mark Fontaine, Executive Director of the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association, said, “While mental illness and substance abuse can be unimaginable challenges for a family, this budget recognizes the importance of supporting services to address these needs a priority for our state. I applaud the Governor’s leadership in keeping these issues in the forefront and driving long-term, effective treatment solutions.”
Melanie Brown-Woofter, Interim President of the Florida Council for Community Mental Health, said, “We applaud Governor Scott’s continued commitment to invest state resources in community behavioral health programs. His budget proposals will provide much-needed relief to families in need, make our communities safer, and help those at risk.”
Jessica Pryce, Director, Florida Institute of Child Welfare, said, Jessica Pryce, Director, Florida Institute of Child Welfare, said, “This budget provides additional workforce capacity and services for child victims of human trafficking and crossover youth who find themselves in both the child welfare system and the juvenile justice system. The Governor clearly understands the urgency of providing these children with relevant and timely services and specifically, ensuring effective treatment for the trauma that they have experienced.”
For more information on the Florida Department of Children and Families, visit www.MyFLFamilies.com.