Florida DCF removes takes steps to stop “failure to protect” allegations against domestic violence survivors

The Orlando (FL) Sentinel recently published an article entitled “DCF officials changing the way they assess “failure to protect” cases: Advocates for battered women praise new direction child welfare agency is taking.” The article, which highlighted a recent serious assault by a father against the mother of his children,  focused on the changes the Florida Department of Children and Families is making to its response to domestic violence.   As of June 1st, 2010 the Department’s Hotline is no longer able to allege “failure to protect” against domestic violence survivors in reports taken in domestic violence cases.  “Failure to protect” against a domestic violence survivor can only be alleged after a child welfare investigation is initiated and even then the investigator is required to get a legal consultation before he or she is able to allege “failure to protect” against a domestic violence survivor.  David Mandel & Associates, as part of their Safe and Together consultation and training work in Florida,  provided support and input into the review of the Hotline procedures related to domestic violence cases.  The hope is that this change will lead to less removals of children from domestic violence survivors without a reduction in child safety.  And because it will reduce the likelihood of domestic violence survivors suffering the loss of their children due to their partners’ behaviors,  it is also believed that it will lead to greater openness on the part of survivors and their advocates to collaborate with child welfare. As Alan Abramowitz, the DCF Family Safety Program Office State Director said in the Sentinel article “We are hoping that removing children because of a ‘failure to protect’ will be rare or in very unique cases.”

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