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Joint committee on foster care system?



Democratic Sen. Nan Rich urged Senate President Ken Pruitt in a letter today to join forces with the House and assign a joint committee to investigate abuse and neglect of children in Florida’s foster care system. Minority Leader Dan Gelber had asked House Speaker Marco Rubio to appoint a House committee to look into the same area. Click the link to read the letter.

Here's the letter that Gelber.doc sent to the House Speaker.

August 2, 2007

Senator Ken Pruitt

President of the Senate

404 So. Monroe Street, Suite 409

Tallahassee FL 32399

Dear President Pruitt:

I’m sure you have been reading about a number of high profile child abuse cases that have recently taken place across our state. Whether it was the alleged rape of an eight year old who resided in foster care in Dade County, or the disappearance of Courtney Clark, the toddler from Pinellas County who was found in horrid conditions in Wisconsin, it is clear that we are having a problem keeping children in state custody safe.

Representative Dan Gelber has requested that Speaker Rubio create a House Select Committee to investigate abuse and neglect of children in Florida’s foster care system. I hope that Speaker Rubio agrees to this request, and I would urge you to give serious consideration to making this a Joint Select Committee.

I believe this committee needs to look at children in foster care, but it also needs to look at the child welfare system as a whole. We need to look at circumstances dealing with these current cases, but legislative oversight is critical in addressing systemic problems and challenges in DCF and the privatized entities we call Community Based Care (CBC) agencies. Studying the results of the Chapin Hall Study of the CBC pilot project will also be important in determining future direction of our child welfare system.

As we face leaner budget years, it is especially important that we have a special committee that reviews these issues and considers what impact budget cuts would have on this important child safety net.

I know some will say that the agencies are doing their own investigations. That is all well and good; but when children die or are raped in the custody of the state, we the Legislature have our own responsibility to figure out how to make the system better and how to make children safer.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Sincerely, Nan Rich State Senator

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