As Florida’s child advocates and attorneys who fight for the rights of kids who suffer child abuse, sexual abuse and other physical personal injury mourn the finding of the bodies of two children in recent days, Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary Mike Carroll had an admission. The Florida DCF chief admitted this week that Florida’s child-protection system failed in both cases.
Speaking to the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee, Carroll said that in both the case of 2-month-old Chance Walsh and 11-year-old Janiya Thomas, who was found to be missing for more than a year when authorities sought to remove five kids from their mother’s home, the agency could have done more.
A call to a child abuse hotline regarding Walsh was dismissed by a hotline counselor. The discovery of a body in a freezer is suspected of being that of Thomas. The autopsy is not yet complete.
While Carroll’s admission is laudable, children under the watch for suspected child abuse or sex abuse still are slipping through the cracks. It’s similar to the case of Phoebe Jonchuk, whose father was accused of dropping her from a bridge into Tampa Bay. The man’s attorney reportedly had called the abuse hotline warning of potential harm. Still, she died.
Between the findings of the committee, the DCF Rapid Reponse Team that investigates such tragedies, and other investigations, hopefully more lessons will be learned – and more children will be protected.