This news has been gathered by KARA volunteer Dr. Denise R. Womer, Ph.D., a former law enforcement officer for 17 years and former DCF Investigator for the State of Florida. Dr. Womer has taught in higher education for 14 years and currently is a Professor for Kaplan University teaching in the School of Social and Behavior Sciences.

March 1, 2017

Three charged with abusing autistic child at recreation center

PENSACOLA, Fla. (WEAR) —

Three adults were arrested Thursday afternoon after an investigation determined they were involved in the physical and mental abuse of an autistic child.

According to the Pensacola Police Department, 53-year-old Rose James, 19-year-old Kemon Johnson and 20-year-old Jarrett Clifton have all been charged with cruelty toward a child. Authorities say the incident was first reported to police on February 28th by an investigator with the Department of Children and Families.

The incident happened around 1:30 p.m. on December 30, 2016, at the Gull Point Recreation Center. The trio were employed at the center through Keegan Staffing.

Authorities say surveillance video from the center showed Johnson repeatedly threatening a 12-year-old boy with a metal stick. At one point Johnson grabbed the child and pushed him to the ground. Surveillance video also showed James slapping the child in the face and kicking him, and Johnson and Clifton dragging the child by his arms out of camera view.

A detective says a motive for the incident remains under investigation. They added approximately a dozen children were in the gym when the incident happened. Authorities say James had worked at the center for three years. Clifton and Johnson had worked for a couple of weeks.

Reported by Kristie Henderson WearTV Retrieved from http://weartv.com/news/local/three-charged-with-abusing-autistic-child-at-recreation-center

 

March 2, 2017

Woman charged with child abuse after deputies find child alone outside home

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — After seeing a diaper-less child standing in a driveway at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, deputies walked through the open front door of the home in the 800 block of 18th Avenue. No one answered as deputies asked whether anyone was home.

They continued, passing drug paraphernalia on two tables, according to an arrest affidavit. “It was not until I came to the bedroom door that the resident, Julia Lederer, 28, acknowledged my presence,” Deputy Mariah Moore wrote in the arrest affidavit. Lederer was charged with felony child abuse. Lederer “explained she (because of being asleep) had no knowledge of her (child’s) whereabouts.”

Deputies called Florida Department of Children and Families’ investigators, who took the child from the home. Deputies described seeing “ants crawling on the (kitchen) countertops and dirty dishes piled in the sink that appeared to have been sitting there for an extended amount of time.”

Nearby was drug paraphernalia “easily accessible to the child.”

“She (Lederer) admitted to smoking marijuana and taking Xanax on Tuesday (Feb. 28) and meth (Methamphetamine) on Feb. 25,” according to the report.   A drug test showed positive for marijuana, meth and amphetamine, deputies said.

Lederer was arrested and put in the Indian River County Jail. Bond was set at $2,500 bail.

Reported by Elliott Jones TC Palms Retrieved from http://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/crime/indian-river-county/2017/03/02/woman-charged-child-abuse-after-deputies-find-child-alone-outside-home/98628964/

 

March 4, 2017

FMPD: Father Arrested for Cruelty Toward Child, Neglect

Fort Myers Police Department were notified by The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) of physical abuse.  Jhonson Benel, 37 years old was arrested and charged with one count of aggravated child abuse and two counts of child neglect (without bodily harm) and quickly posted a $40,000 bond. Abused included bruising, beating, burning and possibly even electrical shocking.

See more information at http://leeherald.com/2017/03/04/fmpd-father-arrested-cruelty-toward-child-neglect/

http://www.nbc-2.com/story/34665237/fort-myers-man-arrested-for-child-abuse-neglect

 

March 8, 2017

UPDATE: Titusville Police Arrest Young Woman for Aggravated Abuse on A Two-Month-Old Infant

BREVARD COUNTY • TITUSVILLE, FLORIDA – Titusville police have made an arrest in connection with an aggravated abuse of a two-month-old infant.

Treasure Lee Coffman, 19, of Titusville, was arrested on Wednesday at around 6:30 p.m. and charged with two counts of Aggravated Child Abuse and one count of Child Neglect, according to a Titusville Police spokesperson.

Police say on Wednesday, at around 12 a.m., they responded Parrish Medical Center to a report of child abuse of an infant. The investigation revealed that the infant had new and healing fractures of the ribs, both legs and an arm.

Treasure Lee Coffman is currently being held at the Brevard County Jail with no bond.

Space Coast Daily Retrieved from http://spacecoastdaily.com/2017/03/titusville-police-arrest-young-woman-for-aggravated-abuse-on-a-two-month-old-infant/

 

March 8, 2017

Police: Babysitter admits to throwing baby into Pack and Play in Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said a woman is being charged with aggravated child abuse charges after they say she threw a baby into his Pack and Play while babysitting him.

Sgt. Jay Farhat said around 2:15 p.m. Tuesday, JSO responded to the 2000 block of Davis Road in reference to a 5-month-old boy that was not breathing.

The child was taken to UF Health Jacksonville in life-threatening condition. Doctors determined the child had internal injuries consistent with some type of trauma. The child was being taken care of by a babysitter, 65-year-old Barbara Kendrick. Farhat said that during the interview, Kendrick admitted to throwing the baby in his Pack and Play after the baby had been fussy due to fever and teething.

Farhat said the parents were working at the time of the incident and brought the baby to Kendrick’s house, as they had been doing for about a month to two months. The 5-month-old child was the only child at the house.

Farhat said Kendrick has no previous record that JSO is aware of. Marriage relates Kendrick and the baby, Farhat said.

Kendrick is being booked into the Duval County Jail. Farhat said the baby has been taken to Wolfson Children’s Hospital and said the doctors say the child’s prognosis is not good. “Any time you have a small child, it’s heartbreaking, and we take these cases to heart,” Farhat said.

by: Amanda Winkle, Action News Jax  Retrieved from http://www.actionnewsjax.com/news/local/jacksonville-police-holding-news-conference-on-a-child-with-possible-injuries/500600812

 

Update: February 28, 2017

Florida foster parent charged in death of toddler weeks away from adoption

In addition to the murder charge, Latamara Stackhouse Flythe was also charged with aggravated child abuse against Aedyn Agminalis, who died Dec. 11 after he was rushed to St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital, the Tampa Bay Times reports, which also said the toddler was likely due for adoption in a matter of weeks by a North Carolina couple. A report issued by doctors at the hospital stated “suspicion” surrounding injuries to the head not consistent with an accident. An active investigation had already been opened Dec. 4 regarding Flythe’s residence in Riverview, a Tampa suburb, due to food stuck in the young boy’s throat, causing him to choke. He was discharged Dec. 7, but later readmitted the same day after and became “unresponsive,” the Times reported. The boy died after being taken off life support Dec. 11.

Retrieved from http://floridapolitics.com/archives/232962-florida-foster-parent-charged-death-toddler-weeks-away-adoption

 

Child Welfare Agency: Girl Who Killed Herself Suffered Abuse

March 14, 2017

A report by Florida’s child welfare agency says the 14-year-old foster child who hanged herself in a shower stall on Facebook live had been sexually abused, beaten, and rejected by her mother.

MIAMI (AP) — A 14-year-old foster child who hanged herself in a shower stall and broadcast it on Facebook suffered years of sexual abuse, was beaten, and rejected by her mother and bounced between more than 14 foster homes, according to a 20-page report released by the Florida Department of Children & Families.

The report released late Monday concluded that while state welfare authorities could have done a better job, Naika Venant’s relationship with her mother Gina Alexis played a significant role in her death.

“Despite everything that had occurred between Naika and her mother, Naika longed to be home,” said the report, written by members of a Critical Incident Rapid Response Team that was deployed by agency Secretary Mike Carroll after the child’s death in January. “Naika often told her therapist that she greatly missed her mother and really wanted to go back home.”

The report detailed the abuse. When Naika was 4, the agency was called to her mother’s home after the girl was left unattended by a male babysitter, with no food or running water. Alexis enrolled the girl in day care and moved to another home.

The next year, the report said, Naika went to the emergency room with an undisclosed chronic health condition. The child welfare agency was contacted when Alexis “called Naika a liar and a faker.

Naika used a scarf to hang herself in a Miami Gardens foster home on Jan. 22 and livestreamed it on Facebook.

In 2009, the report says Alexis beat Naika with a belt after the girl was sexually aggressive with another child. She was removed from her mother’s home. Caseworkers sought to learn where the 6-year-old girl had learned about sex. She told therapists she slept in the room with her mother’s boyfriends and watched “sex movies.”

The next year, after she was returned to her mother, DCF received a report that the girl was sexually abused while in foster care. The other child vehemently denied it, saying Naika was the aggressive one.

According to the report, Naika ran away in 2014, telling investigators she was afraid her mother would beat her. Alexis refused to take Naika back, threatening to beat the then 11-year-old child if she was left there. Two months later, a Miami judge — over the objection of caseworkers and a court-ordered lay guardian — returned Naika to her mother.

In April 2016, Alexis returned Naika to the state, saying she’d had it with her “behavior.” Last November professionals recommended that Naika live in a “specialized therapeutic foster home.” But no bed was available.

In the report, the DCF team faulted the mental health professionals who worked with Naika for treating the symptoms of her trauma and abuse “rather than addressing the trauma itself” and for failing to address the toxicity of the girl’s relationship with her mother.

Alexis’ attorney Howard Talenfeld disputed the findings, telling the Miami Herald (http://hrld.us/2niYa19 ) the report relies on inaccurate information and “is an apparent whitewash of the systemic failures.”

The Associated Press (2017). Child Welfare Agency: Girl Who Killed Herself Suffered Abuse. Retrieved from https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/florida/articles/2017-03-14/child-welfare-agency-girl-who-killed-herself-suffered-abuse

 

 

March 15, 2017

Teacher fired after biting special-needs student, had been regularly rated ‘highly effective

A Florida teacher has been fired more than a year after biting a special-needs student, Florida Today reported.

Karen Williams, formerly a third-grade teacher at Columbia Elementary School in Palm Bay, was placed on paid administrative leave in December 2015 after biting one of her special-needs students on his back, the paper said.

The child told investigators he tried to get away from Williams after she grabbed him and put him in a “bear hug,” Florida Today said. The student then bit Williams on her right hand to get free, and then Williams bit the student on his back “for like a minute,” followed by the student biting Williams on the hand again, the paper said, citing a police report.

An eyewitness heard the student “screaming hysterically” over the front office phone, and when she got to the classroom she found him crying with an oval-shaped red mark on his back.

Students in the classroom at the time couldn’t say definitively they saw Williams bite their classmate, but said they did see her pull him into a tight hug and heard the student yelling “my back, my back.”

Williams denied the allegations, but police found an adult-sized bite mark on his back below the left shoulder blade, as well as fingernail markings along his right side.

Williams was arrested Dec. 10, 2015, and charged with child abuse, a felony, the paper reported, adding that the charges were later reduced to culpable negligence that inflicts injury, a misdemeanor. Williams was found guilty Jan. 27, Florida Today said.

The Brevard County School Board voted to fire Williams on Tuesday night, the paper reported, adding that until the incident she was regularly rated “highly effective” in annual teacher evaluations.

Williams had been under a professional service contract, which stipulates that teachers can be dismissed only for unsatisfactory evaluations, gross insubordination, willful neglect of duties or conviction of a moral crime, Florida Today said.

Reported by Dave Urbanski, The Blaze. Retrieved from http://www.theblaze.com/news/2017/03/15/teacher-fired-after-biting-special-needs-student-had-been-regularly-rated-highly-effective/

 

March 15, 2017

Florida toddler, 2, beaten to death by mother’s boyfriend for wetting the bed

Jamarius Devonti Graham, 21, of Jacksonville, Florida, was babysitting his girlfriend’s daughter. While mom was at work, things turned tragic on April 21, 2016.

Graham admits he beat Aaliyah Lewis, 2, with a plastic coat hanger and a belt after she accidentally wet his bed. He reportedly spanked her 20 times with the belt, according to reports, from head to toe, and struck her with the hanger until it broke.

Aaliyah was dead on arrival at UF Health Jacksonville. The couple waited 90 minutes after Aaliyah exhibited breathing problems to seek help; the toddler was crying in a Facetime video to her mother, but her boyfriend assured her he didn’t take things too far. And mom was afraid she’d be in trouble with Child Protective Services, so she waited. Jacksonville.com reports the medical director for the Duval County Child Protection Team reviewed the medical files and concluded Lewis died from a combination of physical injury and neglect, according to a Florida Department of Children and Families report.

Jacksonville’s Medical Examiner’s Office could not determine the cause of death; however, an autopsy revealed multiple traumatic injuries to her head, torso, and extremities, as well as fluid and swelling to the lungs and brain.

According to the State’s Attorney Office, “The aggravated child abuse charge against Graham carries with it a 30-year maximum and reflects the findings of the Medical Examiner’s Office, which indicated the cause and manner of death could not be determined.” Graham’s sentencing is scheduled for April 17, 2017. No charges have been filed against Aaliyah’s mother.

Retrieved from http://rollingout.com/2017/03/15/florida-toddler-2-beaten-death-mothers-boyfriend-wetting-bed/

 

March 20, 2017

Teacher arrested on child abuse, battery on law enforcement officer charges

Saryna Parker taught at South Dade Middle School

 

HOMESTEAD, Fla. – A Miami-Dade County teacher was arrested Sunday on battery on a law enforcement officer and child abuse charges, court records show.

Saryna Parker has taught eighth-grade science at South Dade Middle School for less than a year, Miami-Dade County Public Schools Spokeswoman Daisy Gonzalez-Diego said.  The school board is moving to terminate Parker because of her arrest, Gonzalez-Diego said.

Further information about Parker’s arrest wasn’t readily available; however, Local 10 News has requested her arrest report.  By Paradise Afshar Retrieved from http://www.local10.com/news/crime/teacher-arrested-on-child-abuse-battery-on-law-enforcement-officer-charges

 

Florida couple face ‘shocking’ 700+ counts of abuse against fostered, adopted children

March 20, 2017

Daniel and Jenise Spurgeon a couple living in southwest Florida have been charged in Alabama with 727 counts of sexual crimes and physical abuses against their 11 adopted and foster children, law enforcement officials in both states told FloridaPolitics.com Friday. Police in both states are calling it the most shocking case they’ve ever seen. “I’ve been working sex crimes involving kids for 12 years and this is by far the worst I’ve had so far,” Detective Keith Johnson, of the Florence Police Department in Lauderdale County, Alabama, said by telephone Friday.

Daniel and Jenise Spurgeon, 47 and 53, respectively, are being held without bond in the Lee County Jail in Fort Myers, Florida. None of the children in the Spurgeon’s care came from Florida’s Department of Children and Families (DCF), according to DCF spokeswoman Jessica Sims.

“It’s important to note that there were no Florida foster children placed in the home with the family,” she emphasized. “Further information cannot be disclosed per section 39.202, Florida Statutes, which provides confidentiality to child victims of abuse or neglect. Any questions regarding the original placement of the children and services for the adopted/foster children should be directed to Alabama’s child services agency.”

Sims noted DCF opened a child protective investigation in July concerning the allegations regarding this family. All children in the home were immediately taken into protective custody, she said.

“The adopted and foster children in the home were placed with the family while they lived in Alabama,” she further clarified. “Since the foster children were in the process of being adopted, they were allowed to move with the family from Alabama to Florida under the federal Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.”

Police originally learned of the case when they responded to a tip of two minors at a Cape Coral bar who were inebriated last July, claiming their parents had forced them to drink alcohol, according to documents provided to FloridaPolitics.com.

During the interviews with the two intoxicated minors, Cape Coral Police investigators learned that four girls under the Spurgeon’s care were claiming they’d been sexually abused and were from Alabama.

“That’s when I got a call from the Cape Coral police,” Johnson said. “It’s taken this long to get everything done because the children had to be interviewed (on video) in Florida and I had to review each one, and before I charge someone with a sex crime I’ve got to make sure that there’s no doubt.”

Daniel Spurgeon has remained in the Lee County Jail since his original arrest.

The number of counts stemming from Alabama alone total 415 and include multiple counts of sodomy in the first degree (4), sexual torture (4), sexual abuse of a child under 12 (2), sexual abuse in the first degree (115), child abuse (122), sexual torture (4), rape in the first degree (6), domestic violence by strangulation and/or suffocation (3), incest (6), human trafficking in the first degree (11) and enticing a child for immoral purposes (115).

That does not include Florida’s charges.

His charges in the 20th Judicial Circuit of Florida, as represented by state’s attorney Stephen B. Russell, are as follows: One count sexual battery of a victim under 12; four counts lewd and lascivious behavior against a minor; one count sexual assault of a victim under 12; 11 counts aggravated child abuse.

“They’ve got similar charges down there (in Florida), but we’ve got more because they were here longer,” Johnson said. Daniel Spurgeon is a native Alabamian, while Jenise Spurgeon was from “somewhere up north,” the investigator said.

Originally arrested in July, too, then released, and then arrested again Wednesday per a warrant issued by Johnson in Alabama. She is charged in Alabama with multiple counts of child abuse (100), domestic violence by strangulation (1), human trafficking in the first degree (11), endangering the welfare of a child (100) and enticing a child for immoral purposes (100).

Her charges in the 20th Judicial Circuit of Florida are as follows: one count out-of-state fugitive from justice; 10 counts aggravated child abuse. It’s unknown if the state’s attorney office plans on filing more charges. A call placed to his office was not immediately returned. Children’s Network of Southwest Florida claimed the children went almost six months without monthly checkups from a state agency because Alabama never notified them that the family moved to their state.

It is unclear if Children’s Network of Southwest Florida is trying to deflect blame, but calls to clarify their claim to the Alabama Dept. of Human Resources — the agency tasked with child welfare in that state — were not immediately returned before this article was published.

The Spurgeon’s will be extradited to Alabama, Johnson said, but it is not clear when. When they are brought to Alabama, the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office will be handling the case, not Cape Coral, officials in both states said.

The Alabama charges against the pair stem from sex late 2007 to 2015, when they moved to Florida. Johnson would not confirm if it is a crime in Alabama to leave the state with foster children, but considering the human trafficking charges against the couple it most likely is a crime.

However, he noted the adopted children would remain in Florida while the foster children would be brought back to Alabama, though part of his statement conflicted with that of Sims from DCF.

FloridaPolitics.com is still waiting on information on whether Florida prosecutors will hold on to the couple to try them in the Sunshine State before allowing their extradition to Alabama for judicial proceedings there.

Reported by Les Neuhaus . Retrieved from http://saintpetersblog.com/florida-couple-face-shocking-700-counts-abuse-fostered-adopted-children/

March 21, 2017

St. Petersburg Man Arrested For Suspected Child Molestation

BREAKING: The arrest followed the child disclosing the incidents — which allegedly went on since 2014 — to family members.

PINELLAS COUNTY, FL – A St. Petersburg man was arrested Monday for allegedly sexually molesting a child over three years in Pinellas County, according to authorities.

Ronnie O’Brian Charles Kasten II, 29, was arrested on suspicion of sexual battery and lewd and lascivious molestation of a minor by Crimes Against Children Unit detectives of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

The child, now 13, disclosed to relatives that the alleged abuse occurred on multiple occasions beginning in 2014, when the victim was 11 years old, officials said. A family member contacted law enforcement on Sunday.

Deputies said the child “was known” to Kasten, but did not provide details on their connection or specifics on where the reported molestation occurred.

Kasten was transported to the Pinellas County Jail without incident, deputies said, adding that he was charged with one count of alleged sexual battery and one count of alleged lewd and lascivious molestation.

Reported by Susan C. Schena (Patch Staff).  Retrieved from https://patch.com/florida/stpete/st-petersburg-man-arrested-suspected-child-molestation

 

March 23, 2017

Five children used candle for ‘light and heat’ after child welfare worker ignored calls for help

Les Neuhaus reports a sub-contracted case manager with the Florida Dept. of Children and Families was arrested for falsifying information regarding the well-being of children living alone, officials confirmed on Thursday. Spokespeople with both DCF and the Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement confirmed Vanessa Arias, 33, was arrested on Friday for lying on safety reports.

“The department has no tolerance for any individual compromising their integrity and, thereby, potentially jeopardizing the safety of a child,” Jessica Sims, a spokeswoman for DCF, told FloridaPolitics.com by email. “We immediately investigated Ms. Arias upon receiving these allegations and referred this case to law enforcement soon after.”

Arias is accused of knowingly stating erroneous information in records she had visited the home of five children in Kissimmee, Fla., roughly 22 miles south of Orlando, when in reality she had not, and further, didn’t return more than a dozen phone calls made from one of the children trying to notify her of their plight. Lying on child welfare records is a felony offense in the state of Florida. She was booked into the Osceola County Jail, according to FDLE.

“One of the children said Arias was last in the home just after Thanksgiving of 2014,” the Orlando Sentinel reported, citing a report by FDLE Special Agent Stephen A. Brenton. “She stopped by and dropped off some Christmas cards in early December, but ‘stayed in the car because she did not like the roaches in the home.’ The mother of the children was there only “sporadically,” a child told police. Officials confirmed the mother had been arrested for child abuse and neglect. But Arias claimed on her Jan. 8 safety check report the children were “free from any visible signs of abuse/neglect with all their basic needs being met at this time.”

A statement by FDLE said 16 phone calls to Arias were made by a child in the home between Dec. 2014 and Jan. 2015, but none were returned.  A single candle was being used to provide “light and heat to the children,” the statement said, due to the electricity being shut off.

FDLE agents finally responded to the home on Jan. 18 after receiving notice from DCF. Arias, who worked for Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services (GCJFCS) as a dependency case manager, was fired on Jan. 23, 2015.

DCF subcontracts referrals in the Orlando area to Community Based Care of Central Florida, who are the lead community-based care agency  – commonly referred to as a ‘CBC’ under Florida’s privatized child welfare parlance – over Orange, Seminole, and Osceola counties. Community Based Care of Central Florida, in turn, subcontracts out the case management to GCJFCS, a common practice with the CBCs throughout the state.

The investigation into Arias is ongoing, according to DCF spokeswoman Sims, who said a report would be released as soon as the investigation was concluded.

Retrieved from http://floridapolitics.com/archives/234584-five-children-used-candle-light-heat-child-welfare-worker-ignored-calls-help

March 23, 2017

NW Florida woman arrested for physically abusing 14-month-old boy

Overzealous spanking or being forcefully struck caused broken blood vessels.

A Pensacola woman was arrested Tuesday afternoon after an investigation determined she physically abused a 14-month-old male left in her care for 12 hours.

Rainna Anne Sakry, 52, of the 400 block of Vancouver Street, was charged with cruelty toward a child/abuse without great bodily harm.

Police were dispatched to a local hospital on January 11 after a child was taken there with significant bruising on his buttocks, back and legs. The child was taken into protective custody by the Department of Children and Families.

Detective Matthew Mercado determined the bruising on the child’s inner thighs was consistent with finger marks as if his legs had been grabbed and forcefully squeezed, and that bruising on his back and buttocks was consistent with that which would occur from overzealous spanking or being forcefully struck which caused broken blood vessels.

Retrieved from http://www.nwfdailynews.com/news/20170323/nw-florida-woman-arrested-for-physically-abusing-14-month-old-boy

 

March 29, 2017

CCHR Says the Baker Act of Florida is Creating Abuse in Contradiction to Why the Act was Established

CLEARWATER, Fla., (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a non-profit mental health watchdog, established by the Church of Scientology and psychiatrist Dr. Thomas Szasz in 1969, and dedicated to the eradication of abuses committed under the guise of mental health, held an event at their Florida headquarters in downtown Clearwater March 25, 2017 on the abuses of the Baker Act.

Retrieved from https://globenewswire.com/news-release/2017/03/29/946514/0/en/CCHR-Says-The-Baker-Act-of-Florida-is-Creating-Abuse-in-Contradiction-to-Why-the-Act-was-Established.html

 

March 30, 2017

Florida mom beats up daughter’s rival at school, axes car

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. –  A mother faces multiple charges after police said she went to a South Florida high school during dismissal and knocked the cellphone out of the hand of her daughter’s rival, while hitting the girl several times.

But the Monday afternoon confrontation didn’t end there, police said in an arrest report for Ernstlatta LaFrance, 30. When the Carol City High School student went to LaFrance’s nearby townhome to get her phone, the woman broke the teen’s middle finger and destroyed her car with an ax.

LaFrance’s partner, Erlisa Evans, 28, stepped outside the home and fired a gun into the air three times, according to an arrest report. She’s now facing charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and firing a gun into the air.

The Miami Herald reports the incident was sparked by an earlier fight between LaFrance’s daughter and a group of girls at the Miami-Dade County Fair & Exposition.

LaFrance also posted a video of the fight on Facebook, warning “those messing with her daughter to be aware,” the report said.

“The defendant also bragged on Facebook telling the victim that suffering two black eyes was not the end and she would use a gun,” the officer wrote in the arrest report.

LaFrance now faces several charges including strong-armed robbery, child abuse and aggravated battery and is being held on a $38,000 bond. Jail records don’t list an attorney for LaFrance or Evans.

Reported by Associated Press Retrieved from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/03/30/police-florida-mom-beats-up-daughter-rival-at-school.html

 

 

 

 

 

GOOD NEWS

March 15, 2017

Mercedes-Benz of Coral Gables launches ‘Driven to Prevent Child Abuse’ partnership

Mercedes-Benz of Coral Gables has partnered with Lauren’s Kids to launch the “Driven to Prevent Child Abuse” partnership this April in honor of National Child Abuse Prevention Month and National Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Through this partnership, Mercedes Benz of Coral Gables has placed the Lauren’s Kids specialty plate “Love & Healing” on the entire fleet of loaner vehicles.

“We are proud to support Lauren’s Kids in their work to prevent child abuse and help survivors heal,” said Greg Barnes, president of Mercedes-Benz of Coral Gables. “We want to help let people know that it’s okay to speak up about these things, and that there is help available.”

This initiative will help raise awareness for the foundation — which works to prevent child sexual abuse and help survivors heal — and the license plate program, as well as provide a $25 contribution per loaner vehicle to Lauren’s Kids through plate sales.

Lauren’s Kids created the “Love & Healing” specialty license plate as a symbol of hope and healing for the 42 million survivors of child sexual abuse in the U.S., it was approved for sale to Florida motorists in 2014. The plate was designed and named by internationally acclaimed artist Romero Britto.

“Raising awareness and educating the community is so important every day, but especially during the month of April,” said Lauren Book, founder and CEO of Lauren’s Kids. “It’s shocking to learn that one in three girls and one in five boys will become a victim of child sexual abuse before their 18th birthday — but important to know that 95 percent of this abuse is preventable through education and awareness. We are grateful for this partnership and for the opportunity to reach even more members of the Miami-Dade community with information about prevention, reporting, and healing from abuse.”

Florida statute dictates that $25 of each “Love & Healing” specialty plate sale will be given to Lauren’s Kids to fund education and awareness efforts to prevent sexual abuse and help survivors heal in communities throughout the state. As of December 2016, there were 4,500 plates on Florida’s roads.

Miami Community News Retrieved from http://communitynewspapers.com/coralgables/mercedes-benz-coral-gables-launches-driven-prevent-child-abuse-partnership/

 

How to Report Abuse in Florida

Southwest Florida Online – Sunday Morning News

From LaBelle, Florida for Hendry and Glades County and the Lake Okeechobee region. Don Browne, editor.

FRIDAY, MARCH 10, 2017

Report Abuse, Neglect, or Exploitation

 

TEL: 1-800-962-2873
TDD: 1-800-453-5145
FAX: 1-800-914-0004

The Florida Abuse Hotline accepts reports 24 hours a day and 7 days a week of known or suspected child abuse, neglect, or abandonment and reports of known or suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a vulnerable adult. Please use the links below to report a child or adult abuse.

If you suspect or know of a child or vulnerable adult in immediate danger, call 911.

Any person who knows, or has reasonable cause to suspect, that a child is abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent, legal custodian, caregiver, or other person responsible for the child’s welfare is a mandatory reporter. § 39.201(1)(a), Florida Statutes.

To report an allegation in Spanish or Creole, please call 1-800-962-2873, for TDD (Telephone Device for the Deaf) 1-800-453-5145.  This toll-free number is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with counselors waiting to assist you.

Español/Spanish:

Si usted es un locutor español y desea divulgar abuso, llame por favor el teléfono directo en 1-800-962-2873 para hablar con un consejero de habla hispana.

Kreyol/Creole:

Pou rapé enfomayson en Kreyol, tanpri rele numero 1-800-962-2873, telefonn pou le soud rele 1-800-453-5145.  Numero toll gratis sa disponsib 24 le de jou, 7 jou pa semén avék konsye kap tann pou edé ou.

http://www.myflfamilies.com/service-programs/abuse-hotline/report-online

 

Brevard County Board of County Commissioners Declares April As Child Abuse Prevention Month

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – The Brevard County Board of County Commissioners issued a proclamation to The Child Abuse Prevention Task Force (CAPTF) declaring April 2017 as Child Abuse Prevention Month in Brevard County.

CAPTF of Brevard County has been working to raise awareness of child abuse and neglect in our community since 1996 and was developed to facilitate strategies within the community to prevent child abuse and neglect by impacting parents and their parenting practices.

CAPTF works collaboratively with its member organizations to coordinate, cooperate, and promote prevention of child abuse and neglect through community awareness and education.

The pinwheel has become the National symbol for child abuse prevention. It represents hope, health and happiness for children everywhere. It represents our efforts to ensure the healthy development of all children.

Friday, April 7, 2017 is “Wear Blue Day”, where individuals and organizations across Florida will band together to make a visible commitment to preventing child abuse and supporting strong families and healthy children throughout the State.

Retrieved from http://spacecoastdaily.com/2017/03/brevard-county-board-of-county-commissioners-declares-april-as-child-abuse-prevention-month/

 

March 30, 2017

Florida Community Bank Hosts Sneaker Drive for Child Abuse Prevention Month in April

WESTON, Fla.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–In honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month, Florida Community Bank Financial Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: FCB), is raising awareness by hosting a children’s sneaker donation drive at all FCB banking centers in the month of April. The children’s sneakers collected will be donated to local charities supporting children in foster care.

“At Florida Community Bank we are very passionate about aiding the communities we live and serve, and is proud to collect sneakers for children of all ages to make a difference in Florida foster care organizations”

FCB rolled out its “Year of the Child,” company-wide philanthropy initiative in 2015, which focuses on supporting local children in foster care. Since its launch, FCB employees have raised more than $28,000 to support the cause, and continue their commitment to children by bringing awareness to the issue of child abuse prevention.

“At Florida Community Bank we are very passionate about aiding the communities we live and serve, and is proud to collect sneakers for children of all ages to make a difference in Florida foster care organizations,” stated Kent Ellert, President and Chief Executive Officer, Florida Community Bank.

On Friday, April 28, FCB invites customers and members of the community to visit any FCB banking center and join FCB team members in wearing blue in support, and to enjoy complimentary refreshments and goodies while supplies last. Blue is the designated color of Child Abuse Prevention Month.

For more information on FCB’s philanthropic efforts or to find a local FCB banking center, visit https://www.floridacommunitybank.com/

 

March 31, 2017

Orlando leaders rock blue-painted fingernail in fight against child abuse

“MANicure Movement” fights against child abuse

 

ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando residents may see a new men’s fashion trend around town on Friday: a single blue fingernail.

In honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month in April, men and women gathered at Orlando City Hall to participate in the launch of the first ever “MANicure Movement.”

All participants who attend the movement will have one fingernail painted in “prevention blue” to serve as a symbol of the fight against child abuse.

This movement is part of Community Based Care of Central Florida’s new initiative to help raise awareness of violence against children as a national health crisis.

One in five children will experience physical, psychological, or sexual abuse before the age of 18, according to the Community Based Care of Central Florida.

Leaders from business, government, law enforcement, media and faith organizations were represented, according to the report.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orlando police Chief John Mina are among those leaders who attended. A spokesperson for Dyer said the Mayor got his pointer finger painted blue.

Reported By Jenna Cisneros. Retrieved from http://www.clickorlando.com/news/new-orlando-fashion-a-single-blue-fingernail

 

 

FL: Local homeless teens overcoming the odds (Includes video)

WTSP – March 29, 2017

Teenagers are starving, bullied, raped and depressed. A new study finds those are the extreme risks students are facing when they don’t have a place to call home. Some local teens who’ve struggled with homelessness are working to overcome these odds.

http://www.wtsp.com/news/local/local-homeless-teens-overcoming-the-odds/426729291

 

FL: Duval Foster Providers Keeping Watch On Opioid Epidemic (Includes audio)

WJCT – March 29, 2017

Duval County child welfare providers are keeping a watchful eye on the opioid epidemic that’s killing people in Northeast Florida. The majority of children placed in foster care have parents who are struggling with substance abuse.

http://news.wjct.org/post/duval-foster-providers-keeping-watch-opioid-epidemic

FL: Sarah Franco, Executive Director Of JAFCO, Named One Of Only Seven Trailblazing Women In Labor And Business

CityBizList – March 29, 2017

JAFCO Executive Director Sarah Franco was one of seven women identified by the Broward County Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) who are considered trailblazers in labor and business. Franco, who tirelessly fights for abused and neglected children, was honored in an exhibit on display at the Government Center Lobby as well as with a detailed write-up on her accomplishments on the Broward.org website, and a proclamation presentation.

http://southflorida.citybizlist.com/article/410414/sarah-franco-executive-director-of-jafco-named-one-of-only-seven-trailblazing-women-in-labor-and-business

 

 

 

FL: Foster parent recruitment goes online

TCPalm – March 28, 2017

Foster home recruitment went online earlier this month with the first of a yearlong series of social media ads designed to drive interested Facebookers to a website landing page of information and upcoming classes. The ad has reached 13,363 people in Martin and St. Lucie counties.

http://www.tcpalm.com/story/specialty-publications/your-news/st-lucie-county/reader-submitted/2017/03/28/foster-parent-recruitment-goes-online/99725208/

FL: Group takes on SIDS with sleep awareness campaign

Osceola County Reporter – March 28, 2017

A Kissimmee organization is trying to save babies from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, one crib at a time.

http://www.mynews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2017/3/28/osceola_group_takes_.html

 

FL: Move to give foster teen Keys to Independence puts Florida in spotlight (Includes video)

Orlando Sentinel – March 25, 2017

“When we started three years ago, of the roughly 2,000 kids in the state’s foster care system who were 16 to 18 years old, only about 20 of them had a driver’s license,” says Glen Casel, CEO of Community Based Care of Central Florida, the nonprofit agency that contracts with the state to manage foster care for Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties. “How are you supposed to grow up and be independent if you never learn to drive?”

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/os-foster-teens-drivers-license-keys-to-independence-20170314-story.html

FL: DFCS, churches working to recruit foster parents

Gainesville Times – March 24, 2017

Climbing higher and higher, the number of Hall County children in foster care reached 250 in February, Division of Family and Children Services foster care administrator Lindsey Bray said. “Substance abuse has always been a huge issue in our community, and I feel like it continues to go on the rise,” she said. With 23 DFCS homes and another 10 in the works, Bray and DFCS are looking to the local church community and other faith-based groups to bolster recruitment efforts.

http://www.gainesvilletimes.com/section/6/article/122598/

FL: More students counted as homeless in high-cost Collier County

Naples Daily News – March 24, 2017

The toughest finding for coalition board members is the escalating number of homeless children, which rose more than 47 percent to 881 kids this year. Last year there were 597 kids without a home.

http://www.naplesnews.com/story/news/local/2017/03/24/homeless-count-spike-students-no-place-call-home/99512736/

 

 

FL: Bill will help foster children get driver’s licenses

Associated Press – March 23, 2017

Children in foster care would get help obtaining a driver’s license and auto insurance under a bill unanimously passed by the Senate. The bill passed Thursday would make permanent a pilot program that began in 2014. The program reimburses foster parents or children for driver’s education, license fees and insurance.

Also: Youth in Child Welfare System Score Win as Senator Bean’s SB 60 Passes Florida Senate (Press release): http://www.flsenate.gov/Media/PressReleases/show/2681

http://www.kansascity.com/news/business/national-international/article140286803.html

 

FL: Crisis center redo begins new CEO’s tenure at Centerstone of Florida

Bradenton Herald – March 22, 2017

Melissa Larkin-Skinner began her new career as Centerstone of Florida’s new chief executive officer Wednesday by taking charge of a $3 million expansion of the Crisis Stabilization Center at Centerstone’s Behavioral Hospital & Addiction Center.

http://www.bradenton.com/news/local/article140164448.html

FL: Foster homes needed in Flagler, Volusia counties

Flagler County Reporter – March 22, 2017

More than 1,000 children in three Central Florida counties are in need of a home, and a Daytona Beach-based agency is asking for people to become foster parents.

http://www.mynews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2017/3/22/foster_homes_needed_flagler_volusia.html

 

FL: Editorial: Make mental health a budget priority

Tampa Bay Times – March 17, 2017

he dismal state of Florida’s mental health system is often described in statistics and funding amounts. But behind those figures are human beings and their suffering – adults and children who simply cannot get treatment for psychological disorders, addiction and other problems that only get worse when left unaddressed. The result is suicide, violent crime and broken families. To neglect this gaping need is inhumane, and Florida’s leaders must make it a priority even during this tight budget year.

http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-make-mental-health-a-budget-priority/2317006

FL: Should adopted children have access to birth records?

News 4 Jax – March 17, 2017

Children adopted in Florida have no mechanism for obtaining their original birth certificates when they become adults, and two members of the Legislature, who were each adopted at birth, are at the center of a debate over whether to change that.

http://www.news4jax.com/news/florida/should-adopted-children-have-access-to-birth-records

 

FL: Report: Delinquency down in Florida, despite a host of challenges

Clay Today – March 15, 2017

“Florida’s communities are seeing a more troubled child needing intensive services and multiple interventions, as well as ‘crossover youth,'” Craig-Myers told FloridaPolitics.com March 13, referring to minors who have had contact with both child welfare programs and the juvenile justice system. “Florida still leads the nation in prosecuting children charged with nonviolent offenses as adults.”

Information Gateway resource: Youth Involved With Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare: https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/systemwide/youth/collaboration/dualsystem/

http://www.claytodayonline.com/stories/report-delinquency-down-in-florida-despite-a-host-of-challenges,6191?

 

FL: State agency alleges mom watched, did nothing to stop daughter’s online suicide

CBS News – March 14, 2017

Now, the Department of Children and Families is alleging in a report that Caze watched the suicide and did nothing to stop it.

Also: Teen Who Killed Self on Facebook Live was Taunted by Mom: Report: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/teen-who-killed-self-facebook-live-was-taunted-mom-report-n733301

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/department-children-and-families-alleges-mom-watched-did-nothing-to-stop-daughters-suicide/

 

FL: Editorial: Another child’s death, another cry for help

Tampa Bay Times – March 13, 2017

A federal report released in January found the state is lagging in meeting the educational, physical and behavioral needs of children in the foster care system. In more than half of 80 cases reviewed, child welfare workers removed children from homes without providing appropriate services, failed to make concerted efforts to deliver care or did not monitor safety plans or engage families in safety services. It cited an array of systemic problems, such as gaps in services, long waiting lists and a failure to tailor aid to a culturally diverse population. Many of those problems were raised by the same federal agency eight years ago.

http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-another-childs-death-another-cry-for-help/2316438

FL: DCF to judge: We didn’t lie; we made a mistake

Miami Herald – March 08, 2017

Lawyers for the state’s shaky child welfare agency assured a Miami judge Wednesday that it was a “simple mistake,” rather than a deliberate lie, when they gave her incorrect information about a girl who might have witnessed the suicide of a foster sibling.

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article137328813.html

 

FL: After Two Suicides In 60 Days, Lawyer Says Florida’s Privatization Of Foster Care Is A Failure

WLNR – March 10, 2017

A preliminary hearing was held Thursday in the case of Naika Venant, the 14-year-old girl who broadcast her suicide on Facebook Live from her Miami Gardens foster home earlier this year. It was the second suicide of a teenager in foster care overseen by the agency Our Kids in less than 60 days. In December, 16-year-old Lauryn Martin hanged herself with a scarf in her room at the Florida Keys Children’s Shelter on Plantation Key. Howard Talenfeld, a lawyer representing Naika Venant’s biological family, says it’s just the latest evidence that the state’s move to privatize foster care isn’t working.

http://wlrn.org/post/after-two-suicides-60-days-lawyer-says-floridas-privatization-foster-care-failure

 

FL: Child welfare lawyers to judge: We made a ‘simple mistake’

Associated Press – March 09, 2017

Florida Department of Children & Families lawyers told a judge they made a “simple mistake” when they gave her incorrect information about the welfare of foster children who may have witnessed a teen hang herself on Facebook live. Judge Maria Sampedro-Iglesia had ordered the agency to explain why they shouldn’t be held in contempt of court over a mix-up in identifying a girl who was in the home Jan. 22 when 14-year-old Naika Venant died.

http://customwire.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_GIRLS_SUICIDE_LIVESTREAMED?SITE=KPUA&SECTION=US&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2017-03-09-07-23-29

 

FL: Foster mom charged in toddler’s death was meant to be his lifeline

Tampa Bay Times – March 09, 2017

The repeated trips to the hospital should have meant the boy was considered for placement with medically trained foster parents, a Florida Department of Children and Families investigation into his death found. Each medical emergency was recorded in an incident log but no one at Eckerd Kids, the agency that runs Hillsborough’s child welfare system, was checking for multiple reports on the same child, the DCF investigation concluded. Eckerd officials said they now have a system that will flag repeated medical incidents, and they plan to hire an employee to take on that responsibility.

http://www.tampabay.com/news/foster-mom-charged-in-toddlers-death-was-meant-to-be-his-lifeline/2315904

FL: DCF to judge: We didn’t lie; we made a mistake (Includes video)

Miami Herald – March 08, 2017

Lawyers for the state’s shaky child welfare agency assured a Miami judge Wednesday that it was a “simple mistake,” rather than a deliberate lie, when they gave her incorrect information about a girl who might have witnessed the suicide of a foster sibling. The mistake was important, Judge Maria Sampedro-Iglesia said because it might have hindered the state’s ability to provide counseling to the girl, who was in the same foster home as Naika Venant, a troubled 14-year-old who hanged herself with a scarf from a shower rod – while livestreaming on Facebook.

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article137328813.html

FL: Foster parents charged

Times Daily – March 08, 2017

A Florida couple who were foster parents in Florence for seven years have been charged with hundreds of counts of child abuse, sexual abuse and other charges involving children they had adopted or were fostering.

http://www.timesdaily.com/news/crime/foster-parents-charged/article_cae16fc3-9a2d-5f19-bb3c-f1b8275fc4a5.html

 

FL: Weeks after foster teen’s suicide, child welfare groups spar over system’s dysfunction (Includes video)

Miami Herald – March 02, 2017

Naika Venant, the 14-year-old foster child whose live-streamed suicide last month became a rallying cry among critics of social media, is taking on another role: poster child for the dysfunctions of Miami’s long-troubled child welfare system.

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article136067053.html

 

FL: Defy me and I’ll jail you, judge in Facebook Live hanging case tells lawyer

Miami Herald – March 01, 2017

A Miami child welfare judge is threatening to jail a lawyer for the Florida Department of Children & Families, suggesting in a strongly worded order that agency attorneys lied to her about the welfare of foster children who may have witnessed a teenager hanging herself at their Miami Garden’s foster home. The suicide was live-streamed on Facebook.

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article135878018.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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