Lawsuit: hundreds of foster kids harmed by being bounced from home to home

Child advocacy non-profit Children’s Rights is suing DCF over the extreme shortage of foster homes in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.
Published Feb. 20, 2018

An international law firm and a children's advocacy group are suing the Florida Department of Children and Families for failing to provide adequate accommodation and care for foster children.

Law firm Baker McKenzie and non-profit group Children's Rights on Tuesday filed the class action lawsuit against DCF on behalf of about 2,000 children in foster care in Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties.

Between January 2016 and June 2017, more than 400 kids stayed in 10 or more different foster homes, known as placements, according to the lawsuit, which also names DCF Secretary Mike Carroll as a defendant. About 185 kids had 20 or more placements and 27 children were bounced between 80 and 140 homes during their stay in foster care.

Children under the age of 6 have been housed in emergency shelters and group homes, and received care from shift workers, the lawsuit states.

The instability that comes from being bounced from home to home "causes emotional, psychological, and physical harm," the lawsuit states.

The frequent moves also mean many children with mental health issue are not getting the treatment they need, the lawsuit states. It calls for system-wide changes to be made to improve the level of care and accommodation.

Placement has also been an issue in Hillsborough County where children were forced to sleep in unlicensed facilities including an office and teen rec center in 2016. After lead agency Eckerd Connects fired a contractor for leaving older children unsupervised, DCF last week ordered a state review of the county's foster care system.