In February, 2011, after another series of child deaths in Florida, Miami Herald reporter Carol Marbin Miller published again her dogged research on a persistent problem in Florida:
She published in several papers, including the Miami Herald and the Petersburg Times, articles with titles such as:
"Florida Leads the States in Child Deaths"
"
Florida deadly for kids at risk | Feb. 27"

 This led to considerable discussion around the state in March 2011.

As Chair of the Florida Health and Human Services Board, that was founded in 2001 because of Florida's failures not just on deaths but on child welfare services generally, I felt that none of the discussants, persons as prominent as David Lawrence, Miami child advocate responsible for pushing pre-school education programs in Florida, and George Sheldon, former head of  the Department of Children and Families, nor the distinguished reporter herself, had dealt with the deeper and broader issues that make Florida such a miserable state for children at risk.

We certainlly appreciate Carol Marbin Miller for unearthing the shocking facts about child deaths in Florida, and the Miami herald and the St. Petersburg times for publishing them.
However, Floridians need to look not just at deaths, but at the way the state is organized is organized for failure.  Florida is hardly a leader!

George Sheldon, the former head of the Department of Children and Families, says:
 "The department and its partners have made substantial progress over the last four years."

Get real! Reporter Marbin Miller found that in the past six years 933 children died from abuse or neglect, almost half of them after being called to the attention of child welfare authorities. Those "authorities" are the private agencies that were contracted by Sheldon to do the job under the privatized system put in place in 2000 under the label "community-based care."

To learn some of the history of Privatization and "community-based care" click here: Historical Background.

Sheldon boasted, "Other states want to copy us, and our federal partners have recognized the work we do as the nation's best."

But the article depicts Florida's leadership position differently: "Florida not only leads the United States in the number of such deaths, but it dominates the nation."

The Times is to be applauded for citing immediate problems like tight funding and administrative decisions to downsize and to shift costs. However, the broader and deeper problems areleft unaddressed:

Read more about privatization of the child welfare system,
 
and

the weaknesses of the community alliances.

Finally, Why is nobody calling our for the real fix?

Alvin W. Wolfe,
Chair, Florida Health and Human Services Board   http://FHHSB.org