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Apr19

Private Welfare and Protective Service fail to protect children placing them in home of a man with a verified history of sexual abuse

  A social services nonprofit and its subcontractor are being accused in court of negligently reunifying minor children in the home of their father, an accused sexual predator. The complaint alleges that Eckerd Youth Alternative Inc., known as Eckerd Kids, and the Devereux Foundation, never informed the Judge of the results of the background check on the children’s father before allowing unsupervised visits and reunification. If the information from the background check would have been reviewed, it would have revealed the father’s verified history of  impregnating a minor child just a year earlier.

    It was also alleged that Devereux failed to hold meetings to discuss safety concerns,  complete various critical documents and address the numerous mistakes made by its employees, supervisors, managers and directors. After the children were placed in the home, it is alleged that the father began to sexually abuse his daughter. Prior to the incidents that are the cause of the lawsuits, the father had a history of abandoning his children and limited to no contact with them.  It was reported that the children may have visiting time with their father but only after the completion of a positive home study. The case workers completely disregarded the judge’s orders and failed to follow Florida Law, Florida Administrative Code, DCF policies and procedures and Devereux’s policies and procedures. Instead Devereux and their employees proceeded without properly informing the Court and others.

The complaint specifically identifies that “case workers Crystal Jolly and Aracelis Rosado, along with Devereux negligently and recklessly disregarded the safety and well-being of the minor plaintiff, by willfully and knowingly failing to perform a home study or background screening investigation  in direct contravention of a court order of which they were all specifically aware.” “In doing so, the minor plaintiff were exposed to a dangerous environment and placed in the home of a sexual predator.”

   In 2012, DCF contracted with Eckerd Kids to assist children in Hillsborough County. Eckerd Kids runs similar programs in 20 states. Eckerd Kids regularly works with Devereux, which is a large behavioral healthcare company providing services across the country. The lawsuit against Eckerd Kids and Devereux is complicated. Based on Florida law, certain protections are afforded community-based care providers for the acts of its employees or its subcontractors’ employees, unless the conduct of the companies and their employees rises to the level of culpable negligence..

    Filing a claim against these private companies for negligence is difficult. The legal process is demanding and involves numerous steps. Hiring an attorney that is skilled and has experience working in a case involving child welfare, foster care, permanency and reunification, such as this is necessary since it has a tendency to get complicated. Vinas & DeLuca have experience representing victims of negligence at the hands of  these private companies that provide foster care and welfare services. If you or someone you know has suffered emotionally, physically or mentally because of someone else’s negligence, don’t hesitate to call Vinas & DeLuca at (305) 372-3650.