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DCF chief of staff resigns amid turmoil

Department of Children and Families Chief of Staff Amanda Prater is stepping down from her post, a department spokeswoman confirmed Thursday.

Her replacement: DCF Child Abuse Prevention Coordinator Jane Johnson.

"Jane's years of service in government and nonprofits to vulnerable children and adults make her the ideal candidate for the role of chief of staff," DCF Secretary David Wilkins wrote in a statement.  "She will bring energy, enthusiasm and a relentless work ethic to this role, and I look forward to working with her as we continue to improve DCF to better serve Florida’s children and families."

Johnson starts in her new role on Monday.

The transition comes at a tumultuous time for DCF.

Beginning in May, four small children whose safety had been on DCF's radar screen died under tragic circumstances over a six-week period. The deaths -- all but one in Miami-Dade and Broward counties -- occurred just as the department was set to unveil a child protection "transformation" that Wilkins insists will dramatically improve the agency's record at keeping children safe.

Wilkins also has sustained withering criticism over his efforts to exercise much greater control over the 20 or so privately run foster care agencies under contract with the state. Executives at the so-called Community-Based Care agencies say Wilkins has tried to bully them into accepting clauses in the contracts that will, among other things, give DCF veto power over the private agencies' leadership teams.

Prater served as chief of staff for about a year. She is leaving to pursue opportunities in the private sector, DCF spokeswoman Alexis Lambert said.

Miami Herald staff writer Carol Marbin Miller contributed to this report.


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The chief of staff for a major state agency is stepping down and Capitol Press Corps had no inkling?


Mike Sawyer

“I continue to wait for Secretary Wilkins to answer my June 6, 2013 question that I sent him by US Mail----“Would you want your child(ren) living in this apartment complex with 31 indigent mentally ill adults?” Referring to the two licensed residential care homes for children in Key West. I reminded Secretary Wilkins of the Florida execution of Elmer Carroll for the rape and strangling death of 10-year-old Christine McGowan. The May report stated that McGowan “lived with her family next door to a halfway house for homeless men where Carroll was staying.” How can the DCF continue to declare this environment “safe?” A possible 14 foster kids ages newborn to 17 next to 31 indigent mentally ill adults? Unbelievable! Would you (reader) want your child(ren) living and playing outside in this apartment complex?”


Amanda Prater talks about being a mother in politics and why she's leaving DCF.



Dear PS/Amanda - we all know that's not the real reason you're "stepping down."

I can say definitively that Amanda was severely under-qualified for this position. Time for the secretary to get someone of at least average competency at this agency. Florida government will run more efficiently without her and her co-workers I'm sure are thrilled that this power hungry maniac will be at home where she belongs.


Isn't it way past time for the press to report on the rather high executive pay at the "non-profit" community organizations that DCF funnels money through.

Who knew running social work oversight and funding entities would prove such a lucrative line of work?!

Could that be part of the rationale for Wilkins wanted some control over who "leads" these entities?

Could it be that some of them are cutting their buddies in for healthy direct or indirect cuts of taxpayer money, some of whom aren't capable, competent, or qualified?

Melanie Hansman

This disturbing disgusting comment by Jane Johnson, "When a child dies, it's not because DCF dropped the ball," Johnson said. "It's because their families failed to protect them.", proves that she is a perfect fit for Department of children fatalities. How dare she blame the families, In most of the recent cases where children have died under DCF's watch there have been multiple reports to DCF from family members begging DCF to protect these children. DCF most certainly is to blame and Johnson's denial of that is exactly what makes David Wilkins "look forward to working with her".

A Facebook User

It's long past time to dissolve the entire department and allow the universities that have child abuse prevention teams to take charge.

And yes the not for profits that get so much money are in too many cases paying chief executives and administrators outrageously high salaries and perks.

The Broward Children's Services Council managed to build an administration building, even after the first try caused a public outcry. It collects millions yearly in tax dollars, but have has it ever been audited for spending and performance?

Time to inventory and audit all of the social services agencies, public and private to see how much could be saved by eliminating high salaries, duplication of services and creating and holding them accountable for performance standards.

I got involved in child abuse prevention in the early 70's, coordinating a community coalition in Dade that got funding for the UM/JMH Children's Multidisciplinary Treatment Team and the first Crisis Nursery in S. FL.. I was one of the pilot Guardians ad Litem, and nothing has changed, no matter what name the department goes by.

Promoting from within a dysfunctional department is a great definition of insanity, i.e., doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

The dead children need to have someone to speak for them and make sure no more die because of the department's failures.

Can't take anymore

Facebooker, the private for and non-profits contracted to replace DCF staff have not faired any better at preventing child injury or death from abuse/neglect. They both hire low paying and poorly trained frontline staff and concentrate salary among executive and managerial personnel. Handing the cases off to local law enforcement agencies has been no better at protecting children. It takes sufficient numbers of trained, skilled and dedicated staff to work with families and to know when to remove (or not) a child due to endangerment. The teams you were a part of can only serve a small portion of the kids that DCF is involved with.

concerned momma

go to the FB pages for fightcps and also families against government abuse. take a proactive stance against grasping bureaucrats who gorge on taxes while low-level Dilberts doze at their desks.
DCF is a longtime hiring hall for loser who can't get jobs elsewhere. They are toxic and dangerous.
Dissolve DCF and get the deadwood flushed where it belongs. Child abuse is a crime, let l.e. handle it.




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