• Third DCA bans preemptive surrenders

    The Third District Court of Appeal in Florida issued a surprising opinion last week in D.M. v. Department of Children & Families. The case involved a child born in 2007. The Mother signed a surrender of her rights in 2010, but no TPR was ever entered. The child was eventually placed back with her. Ten […]

  • What happened in March?

    Florida DCF abuse intakes were down 17% in March. We have no idea what we will see in April.

  • Miami Courts: Closed

    The 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida issued an order this afternoon shutting things down. https://www.jud11.flcourts.org/Court-Announcements/ArtMID/584/ArticleID/3442/COVID-19-Advisory-8-Administrative-Order-20-03-Cancels-All-Non-Emergency-Proceedings-Except-Mission-Critical-Court-Matters-for-March-17-27-2020 _______________________________ ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER 20-03 CANCELS ALL NON-EMERGENCY PROCEEDINGS EXCEPT MISSION-CRITICAL COURT MATTERS FOR MARCH 17-27, 2020 The Honorable Bertila Soto, Chief Judge of the Miami-Dade Courts, today issued Administrative Order 20-03, cancelling all non-emergency court proceedings, except mission-critical court matters, for […]

  • 54 pages about 49 kids: The children who refused placement in Hillsborough County

    Back in August, an ad hoc committee of the juvenile justice board in Hillsborough issued a lengthy report on the state of placement instability in their circuit. The report diagnosed the phenomenon of children refusing placement as a major source of that instability. The committee concluded that “children under the care and custody of Florida’s […]

  • Billion Dollar Babies

    I sat on this post until after National Adoption Month because it seemed like the polite thing to do and because I didn’t have time to finish it until now. It’s about adoption. Not whether adoption is good or bad. My feelings about adoption are whatever my client’s feelings are — and it should be […]

  • Have fun at the summit!

    To everyone traveling to the DCF Summit today, be safe. I have a couple of long posts coming out, so you’ll have something to pretend to read by the pool. Have a wonderful time!

  • News & Notes

    I haven’t done a news and notes in a while, but I’ve read so many good child welfare related things lately that I wanted to share them. Here we go.

  • Update: the GAL Program isn’t being investigated by the Bar, and DCF is not cutting off kids in jail

    Two pieces of news that I haven’t had time to post about.

  • A Reluctant Post About the Guardian ad Litem Program: Its Ethics, Efficacy, & Future

    The Guardian ad Litem Program started as a scrappy community of advocates and gadflies who sought to bring attention and change to the dependency system. It is now a state agency that’s been appropriated over $600 million in the last 15 years. There has never been a comprehensive study to determine whether the Program accomplishes its goal of improving the lives of foster children. I looked at the Program’s performance numbers, first out of irritation, then curiosity, and ultimately the realization that we need more fact-based information about the “Second DCF” to answer the core questions surrounding its continued funding and structure. The questions explored here are whether the GAL Program is ethical, effective, and good for children? The answer to all three questions, it turns out, is the same.

  • Plotting Permanency: Using the public FSFN database to explore exit patterns in Florida foster care

    This post introduces a new public FSFN dashboard on permanency timing in Florida’s child welfare system. If you want to just play with the dashboard, you can find it here. All but one of the graphics in this post come from the dashboard. Every year, in legislatures across the country, well-meaning people propose bills to […]

  • I made a “Yelp for Child Welfare” Because We Need to Know More (Not Less) About Foster Care Providers

    This post introduces a new public FSFN dashboard: the Placement Provider Info Dashboard. If you want to jump straight there, feel free. You should click the fullscreen button in the bottom right corner. Below is the why and how of it. There is a well-meaning bill working through the legislature that would exempt the names […]

  • This is not okay – Visualizing foster care placement instability

    Christopher O’Donnell and Nathaniel Lash at the Tampa Bay Times recently published an outstanding investigative piece on the harmful number of placement changes some kids experience while in foster care. They write: Foster care is intended to be a temporary safety net for children at risk of neglect and abuse at home. Those children, many […]