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Miami judges slams DCF for keeping children in home where battered toddler died

A Miami judge lashed out at child welfare administrators this week after they asked her to leave three small children in a South-Dade home in which their 3-year-old cousin had just died — his body marked by bruises, welts and a human bite mark.

Gerardo Perez arrived unresponsive at Homestead Hospital over the weekend with bruises to his elbow, back and legs, and telltale bite marks on his upper back. He also had a mouth full of severely rotten teeth. On Monday, he was dead.

Child welfare authorities surveyed the toddler’s injuries and considered removing his first cousins from the home Gerardo shared with them, saying nothing less could “keep the children safe” as police tried to determine who hurt the boy.

But later, the Department of Children & Families changed course: The agency asked a Miami-Dade judge to leave the three youngsters — ages 3, 2 and 1 — with their father, Gerardo’s uncle, on his written pledge to keep their mother and Gerardo’s mother, considered abuse suspects by police, out of the house.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Rosa Figarola, who called DCF’s handling of the case “troubling,” refused the request Tuesday, instead ordering the children into foster care. The next day, Figarola shot off a blistering email to agency administrators, accusing them of seeking to leave three small chidlren in harm’s way.

“The handling of this case illustrates that the same systematic failures that have plagued the Department and given rise to the devastation we recently observed are still being executed,” Figarola wrote. Story here. 

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