Friday, May 16, 2008

Abused Florida 9-year-old to receive Millions for DCF Mistake

TALLAHASSEE -- With 9-year-old Marissa Amora at his side and smiling brightly from her wheelchair, Gov. Charlie Crist signed legislation today that could eventually award her $18.2 million for a Department of Children and Families mistake that led to horrific abuse and permanent brain damage.

"Sometimes government makes mistakes and when that happens, we need to recognize that," Crist said at a morning press conference at the Governor's Mansion.
Since 2004, Marissa has lived with her adoptive parents on a small Marianna farm with six brothers and sisters, all of whom have special needs.

The legislation will give her $2.9 million this year, with a promise that additional funding will be authorized by future Legislatures until the full amount is paid off, said her Tallahassee attorney, Lance Block.
Marissa's adoptive mother, Dawn Amora, said the change in administration at DCF has made all the difference in her long battle to get help for her daughter.

The couple needs the money now to pay for back surgery that Marissa will need in a few weeks, and other medical care, Dawn Amora said.

"We have so much hanging over our heads," Amora said. "She will never end up in a nursing home, which is where the department originally wanted to put her."

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