New DCF head wants review of child deaths

Esther Jacobo orders review of child death cases in 2013

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MIAMI - The new head of the Department of Children and Families wants a review of all child deaths case in 2013 where there was prior involvement by the department.

Interim Secretary Esther Jacobo directed Assistant Secretary Pete Digre to conduct the review in a memorandum released Friday.

"I am deeply disturbed by the recent deaths that have occurred around the state due to abuse or neglect," Jacobo wrote.

Jacobo also requested that each of the regional managing directors see if there are opportunities for the department to use the resources of local law enforcement agencies to strengthen child protective investigation efforts. 

"These tragic events demand a detailed examination and analysis so we can fully understand what happened and identify actions we can take to prevent future tragedies from taking place," Jacobo wrote. "We must constantly examine our practices so we can be responsive, diligent and effective."

The former state prosecutor was tapped after Secretary David Wilkins abruptly resigned last week. She came to the agency in 2008 and was most recently the managing director for DCF's southern region.

In one of the deaths, DCF fired a child protective investigator for forging documents about substance treatment for a mother months before she left her 11-month old baby in a sweltering car.

A similar problem thrust the agency into the national spotlight nearly a decade ago after a caseworker lied about visiting foster child Rilya Wilson for more than a year, while filing false reports and telling judges the girl was fine. Rilya is presumed dead.

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