MIAMI (CBSMiami) – On the one year anniversary of the death of 10-year old Nubia Barahona, the head of Department of Children and Families says they’ve made progress towards making sure this tragedy never happens again.
Last Valentine’s day, police found the decomposing body of ten-year-old Nubia Barahona in the back of her adoptive father’s truck parked on the side of I-95 in West Palm Beach. In the front seat, they found her twin brother Victor suffering seizures from chemical burns.
The children’s adoptive parents, Jorge and Carmen Barahona are both charged with first-degree murder for the death of Nubia.
“It is difficult to describe the impact Nubia’s tragic death has had on myself and so many others. Every time an innocent child dies, we all suffer from the loss of dreams and wishes that will never be pursued,” said DCF Secretary David Wilkins in a message to all employees on Tuesday.
Nubia and Victor were adopted by the Barahonas in 2009 after living in their home since 2004. The kids, authorities discovered, had endured starvation, beatings, medical neglect and they had been tied and forced to stay in a bathtub.
The DCF came under fire during the course of the police investigation into Nubia’s death for failing to piece together warning signs from medical professionals and school officials that something was wrong in the Barahona home. The agency blamed it on a system wide failure, including poor judgment by child protective investigators, overwhelming caseloads and missed opportunities at every turn.
“Since that day, every decision we have made has been to help ensure such a tragedy does not occur again. This death highlighted numerous issues in our child welfare system that needed to be addressed in order to improve the child protection program,” said Wilkens in the message.
After Blue Ribbon investigative panel outlines the key problems with the agency, DCF went to work to improve agency.
Wilkins said in the last year they’ve hire more child protective investigators and are working with law enforcement more closely than ever to coordinate investigations.
In the memo he also listed a number of other new initiatives, both implemented and proposed, to make the agency more efficient.
“Implementation of these recommendations will dramatically improve the child protection system and provide a more seamless and focused system to allow investigators to make the critical, real-time decisions necessary to save children’s lives, “said Wilkins in the memo. “To do anything less would only compound the tragedy of Nubia’s death.”