A report released Tuesday warns an increase in the number of children placed in foster care could result in increased abuse.
Officials came to Ft. Myers to publicize details of the report…on child welfare in Florida. They chose Lee County because of a local spike in the number of children removed from their homes this year.
The increase follows the rape and killing of a Lehigh Acres girl in February. 13-year-old Michelle Fontanez remained at home despite reports of on-going abuse by her stepfather. Richard Wexler is Executive Director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform.
“In the aftermath of the death of Michelle Fontanez caseworkers are running scared. Terrified of having the next such case on their caseload – they’re taking away large numbers of additional children needlessly. So the number of children taken from their parents in the months after Michelle died is up 50-percent from the same period a year ago.”
But Wexler says data shows spikes like this often backfire. As more children enter the system – he says caseworkers become overburdened – allowing more kids to slip through the cracks.
Wednesday, 19 July 2006 01:00