My fiancée and I are fortunate enough to be gainfully employed professionals and live in a friendly, safe community. More than a year ago, we stepped in to help a friend of our daughter who was living, malnourished, in unsanitary and emotionally abusive conditions.
We not only reported the problem to the Department of Children & Families, we also offered to take the girl in for her final year of high school. The girl was thrilled, because she now had the basic comforts, sanitary conditions and privacy that were lacking at home. Her parents offered little resistance. They saw the benefit and still were able to maintain a relationship with her.
Enter DCF. Instead of her staying with us at no cost to the state, since we notified the agency, it now had to make sure that it decided her fate. After several interviews, background checks and fingerprinting at the police station to qualify as foster parents, DCF decided that she’d still be better off with total strangers at a “real” foster home “experienced” with troubled youth of this sort. She was petrified at that notion and luckily found happiness with a family of her choice.
It wasn’t long after that ordeal that the story about prostitution and pimping run out of foster homes hit the front page. Luckily the girl avoided that fate, but the story helped shed light on what we thought at the time was inexplicable. It’s obvious that there is financial reward within the system for placing young children with the “experienced.”
The problem is clearly systemic. Worse yet, it’s a top-down problem. If this happened in a business, the board would have fired everyone by now and put a new team in place to start over. Gov. Scott, we need to start over.
Matthew Plonys, Miami