Friday, December 26, 2008

DCF,Florida Hides Behind Confidentiality Laws

By Paul Pinkham Jacsksonville.Com


The Florida Department of Children and Families repeatedly violated state laws and its own procedures by not releasing records to lawyers for children in a Nassau County foster home abuse case, an internal report by the department's general counsel obtained Tuesday by the Times-Union says.

The department also improperly destroyed and misplaced some records, failed to retrieve others from foster parents and illegally released confidential child-abuse reports without a court order to a lawyer representing department employees, the report says. Those were the same records that department lawyers in Jacksonville told the children's lawyers they couldn't find, a situation the report called "inexplicable."

"The facts and circumstances of this case reveal that record management procedures in the Northeast region are inadequate," the report says.
It decries the fact that the violations continued even after Gov. Charlie Crist implemented an open-government office in Tallahassee and an open-government commission on which the Children and Families secretary serves.

"The governor's actions should have triggered a review of pending public records requests within the agency," the report says. "Had such review occurred, the agency would have been spared the waste of considerable time and energy and the loss of precious credibility.", (904) 359-4107


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