TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – On his first day as interim secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families, Mike Carroll directed his deputies to create a new position to oversee the reporting of child deaths and to track the agency’s response to them.
“This individual must have vast knowledge of our system of care and child protection practices,” Carroll wrote in a memo to Deputy Secretary Pete Digre and Assistant Secretary for Programs Janice Thomas. “They must be given the authority to enact policy change, as needed.”
Carroll noted that he expected the new hire to be recruited and placed within the month. He also directed Digre and Thomas to finalize a plan for incident reporting that will “ensure that leadership is informed immediately following the report of a child death to the (state abuse) hotline.”
The memo follows a Miami Herald investigative series on hundreds of children’s deaths and a report by the newspaper last week that DCF had “clamped down” on transparency as the series was being reported. One administrator reportedly withheld more than 20 child-death reports over a period of months.
DCF denied last week that it had acted improperly.
“Once this vital role in our organization is filled and an improved reporting system is deployed, I expect that data on child deaths will be reported and shared with the public,” Carroll wrote.
The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.