MIAMI (CBSMiami/NSF) – A special investigative report “Innocents Lost,” by CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald, reveals the disturbing stories of more than 470 children who have died of neglect or abuse in Florida over the past six years.
The findings of the investigation were published in Sunday’s paper and online.
In every case, their families were known to the Department of Children & Families (DCF), the agency whose job it is to protect them. Florida has a troubling record of child protection, cutting across all races and ages.
“What our team discovered is heart-breaking and will surely prompt many to ask, ‘How could this happen?,’’ said Miami Herald Executive Editor Aminda Marqués Gonzalez. “Raising awareness is one of our pivotal roles as watchdog journalists. We sometimes have to uncover terrible truths to steer toward solutions.”
The Miami Herald newsroom spent more than a year working on this investigation.
“The findings are without question among the most important and compelling uncovered by this newspaper,” said David Landsberg, president and publisher of the Miami Herald Media Company. “Florida Gov. Rick Scott, state legislators and other stakeholders should take note of this extensive report and take action.”
Click the video above for an inside look at what went into the investigation and its findings.
In response to the investigation, DCF issued a statement.
“The Herald series will give names and faces to these children,” DCF Interim Secretary Esther Jacobo said . “DCF knows these names. These cases have been closely studied in our continuous efforts to improve child protection practices.”
The department said the series will “give the public a glimpse into what we at DCF already know — far too many children die of abuse and neglect each year.”
DCF also noted initiatives it has undertaken to improve child safety, including a new safety decision-making methodology to improve the information that investigators gather to make decisions on behalf of at-risk children, and Gov. Rick Scott’s budget recommendations to spend nearly $40 million on 400 additional child protective investigators.
The department noted that it conducts an average of 200,000 child-protective investigations concerning about 300,000 children each year.
The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.