Sen. Book seeks action to protect state’s foster children

In the wake of the USA Today Investigative series on Florida’s child welfare system, Sen. Lauren Book is urging Florida Department of Children & Families Secretary Chad Poppell to take immediate action to protect children in the foster system.

Book — current Chair of the Senate Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs and a child sex abuse survivor from ages 11-16    sent a letter to Poppell at the Florida Department of Children and Families requesting more information on this problem and to demand action. Book has been a long-time champion for the prevention of abuse and for the ongoing support of survivors.



Book’s letter, which was also sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis, Casey DeSantis and legislative leaders from both chambers, questions “gaping holes” in Florida’s child welfare system as it relates to policies and practices that have put children in harm’s way. The USA Today series reveals foster parents who have been accused or convicted of abuse or other violent offenses have been allowed to retain their licenses. There has also been a lack of followup and services provided to children previously housed with a foster parent who was later found to be abusive. The investigation reveals a high rate of case managers falsifying documents.

“While I only have the lengthy research as addressed in the series of USA Today articles, there is enough smoke to cause me concern,” Book said in a statement. “I understand that the need for fostering greatly outweighs the current availability of care and am aware of how difficult it is to provide quality care when a system is overloaded, underfunded, and understaffed, but the errors made have been egregious, and the issues outlined (in the USA Today series) indicate system-wide policy failure.”

Book requested a copy of the findings compiled by DCF’s joint task force that includes the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and child welfare subcontractors. The task force was created in response to USA Today’s investigative inquiries. Book is “committed to ensuring implementation of task force recommendations and drilling further into the lapses in policy and judgement that have left vulnerable children needlessly suffering.”