Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

DCF Workers Tracking Kids All Children to Be Seen within Weeks

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

DCF Workers Tracking Kids All Children to Be Seen within Weeks

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul Pinkham, Times-Union staff writer

Florida child welfare supervisors began the extraordinary task yesterday of visiting every child in state care and documenting their visits with photographs.

The visits are considered so important following reports of a missing foster child that even top administrators are getting into the act.

"We're just doing a quality-assurance review to make sure the kids are where they're supposed to be, where we think they are," said Rick Barry, Northeast Florida district administrator for the state Department of Children and Families, outside a Mandarin foster home he visited yesterday.

The comprehensive review was ordered by Gov. Jeb Bush and DCF Secretary Kathleen Kearney last week in the wake of reports that 5-year-old Rilya Wilson of Miami went missing unnoticed for more than a year. The review is supposed to be finished by May 31, Barry said.

In Northeast Florida, that means 3,000 children in state custody must be visited and photographed by DCF supervisors by month's end. The visits are in addition to those made by the children's caseworkers, Barry said. About 70 district supervisors are conducting the visits, DCF spokesman Alan Kelley said.

Rilya had been missing from her Kendall foster home for 16 months when DCF reported her gone April 25. Her caregiver said someone claiming to be from DCF took her for psychological testing and never returned. Rilya's caseworker is accused of falsifying records.

Barry showed up yesterday afternoon at the home of Donna Edison, who cares for three young foster children. He brought coloring books for the kids and a bouquet of Mother's Day flowers for Edison.

He questioned her about her needs and talked to the children as they played in the back yard. Then he photographed each of the children holding a sheet of paper on which that child's name was written. …

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