Posted on Sunday, 05.15.11
Miami child removal rates lowest in state
By KELLI KENNEDY
MIAMI -- Miami-Dade County has the lowest rate of calls to the state's child abuse hotline among Florida's large counties and some experts say it's because its largest ethnic groups fear calling the hotline or any government authority will only worsen the situation .
Child welfare officials say that lack of reporting by the Cuban and Haitian communities is one reason why the state's most populous county also has the lowest percentage of children placed into foster care. But experts say it's hard to determine if that's because children are actually safer here.
They also worry that Miami-Dade investigators aren't removing children despite warning signs of abuse because of a statewide push to safely keep children in the home and work with their families.
"Miami keeps you up at night worrying because you know there are calls that aren't coming in and cases we aren't hearing about," said Alan Abramowitz, a former family safety director for the Department of Children and Families. He now heads the state guardian ad litem program, which provides volunteers to represent abused and neglected children in court.
Calls to the state's child abuse hotline from Miami-Dade are about 20,000 annually, which is the same as Broward and Orange counties even though those counties are much smaller.
Hotline calls are the primary way that authorities investigate and consequently remove a child.
That's one reason child removal rates in Miami-Dade were 1.6 per 1,000 children in 2010. That's up slightly from 1.4 per 1,000 in 2009 but still far less than neighboring Broward County, where officials removed at a rate of 2.3 per 1,000 children in 2010. In Hillsborough County, the removal rate was 4.2 per 1,000, according to data obtained by The Associated Press.
Removal rates that dip below 3 per 1,000 mean kids are at risk and more than 6 signals too many kids are being removed, Abramowitz said.
Many in Miami-Dade attribute the low removal rate to the Cuban and Haitian communities' fear of government fostered by the repression in their home countries. Experts say those communities' widely view the abuse hotline and general child welfare services as punitive instead of a system designed to help. (and it is definitely punitive and the government here IS repressive)
Child court Judge Cindy Lederman recently had a Haitian mother in her courtroom who was accused of neglect after she did not take her accidentally injured child to the hospital.
"I'm from Haiti and we hear that you just take children away for nothing in this country and I was afraid," Lederman recalled the mother saying. (and she found out that was absolutely correct)
Miami grandmother Maria Diaz said she doesn't trust child welfare workers and would prefer to handle problems within the family, especially after reading headlines of children harmed while in the state's care. She would be reluctant to call the hotline.
"In the news lately it seems like a lot of things fall through the cracks. It doesn't seem like people are who supposed to be doing their jobs are doing their jobs," Diaz said. "If you have a sound family and they're able to take care of it in the family, it's (better) for the children. FULL STORY
If you have a sound family, you CAN take care of ANY situation better than the ignorant and malfeasant liars, boobs and thugs from this REPRESSIVE government.