Why was Jordan backwith mother? | Editorial, Sept. 7
Why wasn’t guardian heeded?
As a former guardian ad litem in Hillsborough County, I was hit hard by the death of Jordan Belliveau. Florida continues to have issues with children dying in the care of the Department of Children and Families. But not every case had a volunteer guardian ad litem assigned to it as there are simply not enough guardians to go around. This one did. The one thing I was told while serving as a guardian was that I had to protect the best interests of the child and that the state and courts would always listen to me because I knew the case and the family better than anyone. Fortunately for me and for the children in my care, that was true. But in Jordan’s situation it was not. I am sick about this needless death and angry at the system that failed him.
My question is, since the state has the mother in custody, charged with murder, what action will be taken with those people in the "the system" who overrode the guardian? Will the state bring action against those culpable in Jordan’s death as well as against the person who killed him? Perhaps that is needed to send a message to everyone involved with the care of those who cannot speak for themselves and make a difference in the future.
Jerry Rosen, Lutz
The case for case workers
I’d like to take a minute to counter the narrative that case workers are to blame for the tragic death of Jordan Belliveau. I have worked with hundreds — maybe thousands — of case workers over the past 20 years, and I have never met one who took the job for any reason other than to help children. The case workers I know are up late, knee-deep in tragedy and jumping from one crisis to the next. They do their best to protect, nurture, support and heal children despite low pay, little appreciation and all the blame when something goes wrong. The system does make many mistakes and falls short often. But this is due to lack of funding and resources — not lack of effort and commitment by the case managers. We as a community, must demand more resources for our families, agencies, and the dedicated people who save children every day. Remember, there are many more instances in which children are rescued from abusive situations, sheltered carefully, and reunified or adopted safely — but those stories do not make headlines.
Marlene Bloom, Tampa
Audits clear taxes for ballot | Sept. 7
Pull together on tax votes
The Hillsborough education referendum is urgently needed to address critical issues created by the refusal of the Legislature to adequately fund our public schools. Despite significant underfunding by our state, our Hillsborough public schools have consistently achieved impressive results, setting an all-time graduation rate record, closing achievement gaps and ranking at the top of the Nation’s Report Card. Under Superintendent Jeff Eakins, the district has reduced costs and turned around a large budget deficit. Our children need us to invest in them since the Legislature refuses to. Our county needs thriving public schools to maintain property values and make us competitive to attract large corporations. The transportation and school referendums should not be "us against them." A strong public education system benefits our entire community — we are in it together and should support each other accordingly.
Alisha Stephens, Tampa