Sunday, April 27, 2014

After 40 deaths, Rick Scott fights to WEAKEN child safety bill "to save money"!

#117 of My Stupid State

The Department of Children and Families has had a rough couple of years. The guy Scott appointed to run it resigned in disgrace. (One of 17 record resignations under Scott, BTW). The agency was woefully mismanaged and is severely underfunded. In just the past few years hundreds of children have died preventable deaths due to failed background checks, no oversight, and poor social worker training.

Rick Scott responded by laying off HUNDREDS in of critical positions in the DCF. His budget also completely eviscerated children's welfare, even beyond what the teapublican FL Senate wanted.

Scott told critics that he believed in the "power of prayer and hope". So they don't need money.

Simultaneously, I will point out, this complete asshat asked to increase HIS office by $343 million and add 91 positions to HIS staff. Recently, he had no problems asking for 100 million in taxpayer money to be donated to the very powerful tourism industry. (Coincidentally, 100M is the same number Rick said he plans to spend on his re-election campaign.)

But Rick Scott thinks powerless children can survive on prayer and hope. The result: 40 children were killed under DCF JUST last year. Atrocious.

Asphyxia, drowning, physical abuse, and the list goes on. They were preventable. The red flags were glaring. Rep. Perry Thurston (D) wrote to Scott that many of the system failures noted in the report are linked to "diminished resources."

It would horrify a normal person. But Rick Scott is not normal.

Because of public outrage, the Senate tried to tweak the state's child welfare laws (SB 1666).

On Friday, Rick Scott weighed in. He has an election coming up. So one would think he would at least give the appearance of giving a damn. What does Sick Rott do?

At the very last minute, Rick Scott tried to sneak in seven different ways to weaken the DCF even further!!! It was all about cost-cutting:

The "strike-all" amendment would make several significant changes aimed at tamping down some of the provisions and oversight over the department, according to a document obtained by the Herald/Times. The summary of the amendment says many of the reforms would cost too much money. The proposed amendment would do the following:

* Eliminate the requirement that members of DCF's Rapid Response Teams travel to the site of a child's death in order to conduct a case review. The idea is to save money.

* Give the response teams more time to conduct the review and eliminates an outside review committee intended to provide oversight to DCF's work. The department says this is "redundant."

* Eliminates the requirement that the Death Review Committee provide training. The department considers this an onerous requirement since the committee is made of volunteers.

* Eliminates a loan forgiveness program intended to encourage people with social work and other social services degrees to work as child protective investigators. The department and governor consider this "expensive and will require additional staff and infrastructure within the department."

* Deletes a requirement the Community Based Care organizations post their executive salaries on the web site.

* Changes the liability limits on CBCs by requiring them to obtain less insurance in the event they get sued for malpractice, . The measure reduces the caps on liability to their 1999 levels by resetting them form $1 million per person, $3 million per incident for economic damages, $200,000 for non-economic damages and removes the cost of living adjustment that allows damage caps to rise according to the consumer price level industry. The current bill sets the damage caps at $2 million per claim; automobile liability cap at $200,0000 per claim and the non-economic damages cap at $400,000 per claim.

* Eliminates the Institute on Child Welfare at FSU because it "will drain resources from child welfare services."

Scott defenders say there are "charity groups" that can handle this (and NO, there aren't) or, like Scott, just don't give a damn. (For crying out loud, he let a man who oversaw the physical and mental abuse of 100s of kids hold a fundraiser for him!!

Scott may not give a damn, but we do. If you haven't already, please do something about this. These small, abused children are the most vulnerable people in the world. Unless they suddenly become rich, white campaign donors, you can't count on Rick Scott looking after them anytime soon.

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