November 22, 2005

Florida child welfare officials: 'Get rid of kids...'

MIAMI HERALD: Faced with a looming $8 million shortfall of money to care for former foster children, Florida child welfare administrators proposed this solution: They asked Miami-Dade's private foster care agency to ''get rid of kids'' who are eligible for financial aid.

The head of Miami-Dade's foster care agency, Henry ''Hank'' Adorno, refused.

``You want Our Kids to be the scapegoat; you want us to be the ones to tell these kids you have no money. . . . How about a little honesty?''


The dustup between DCF and its hand-picked private foster care agency could have consequences for Gov. Jeb Bush and his DCF secretary, Lucy D. Hadi.

Privatization of foster care and adoption programs was at the heart of Bush's plan to reform the child welfare system.

The transition to private management has been bumpy from the start.

But never has a private foster care agency filed suit against the state, and rarely before have relations between DCF and its own community-based care provider become so acrimonious.

Members of the alliance, created to help Miami-Dade transition into private foster care management, did not want Hood to take his lumps alone.

As dozens of children's advocates listened on a speakerphone, Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman, chief of juvenile court and the alliance's head, called Hadi's office to ask the agency head for some more money.

Hadi's secretary said she wasn't available and said the discussion would have to be postponed.

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