Abused, abandoned and neglected are the lives many South Florida foster children lead. Yet, what one Miami judge saw recently regarding the events they endured and care they receive he called ineptitude and incompetent. The judge was commenting on the violent “cockfights” and brawls children at a Miami group home for foster kids were forced to perform – with the encouragement of an adult supervisor.
“I saw a cockfight … between foster kids,” Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman said in court, according to news reports. The supervisor was “provoking and encouraging violence” as “these two boys battled it out and beat each other up.”
The judge targeted his ire at Children’s Home Society of Florida, the company that operates 11 foster homes in Miami-Dade, according to the Miami Herald. The Children’s Home Society employee has been fired. The organization runs the homes via Our Kids of Miami-Dade, a nonprofit child welfare organization under contract to the Florida Department of Children and Families.
“What is really sad is these kids are abused, abandoned and neglected. And then they get taken from their parents. They come in expecting refuge,” the judge said. “And what they are subjected to is more abuse and neglect at the hands of ineptitude, and agencies who throw them in these group homes with incompetent people who stand around watching them have cockfights.”
Child advocates and every South Florida attorney who fights to prevent child abuse, sex abuse, personal injury and other harm or damages to children in the system are aghast at this recent display. Thankfully, the video found its way to Judge Hanzman. If you see or suspect child abuse of foster children or kids in the care of state agencies or their contracted providers, contact the Florida Child Abuse Hotline (800-962-2873), the authorities, or JusticeForKids.us.
The Florida Abuse Hotline receives calls, faxes, and web based reports from citizens and professionals with concerns of abuse, neglect, or exploitation on children and vulnerable adults in Florida.