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DCF FINALLY PULLS THE PLUG ON A $190-MILLION FAILURE

The Department of Children and Families is officially pulling the plug on an expensive and controversial computer system that was supposed to help child abuse investigators.

The department began the switch to a new computer system Saturday.

The HomeSafenet project has been plagued with problems since its inception 13 years ago, but the DCF continued to spend money on the system to try to make it work. The agency ultimately spent $190-million for a system that was never finished and never met its mission.

But the cost was not a total loss, said DCF spokesman Joe Vastola. About $40-million of computer hardware from HomeSafenet was used to build a system that works, he said.

The new Florida Safe Families Network keeps an up-to-the-minute account of all children and adults in the state's care, including their case histories, he said.

"Investigators, the department, our community practitioners will be able to go and look and see the whole record for a child, for a family and really have a good sense of the history, the services, the costs and the activities associated with it," Vastola said.

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