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In wake of child deaths and new law, DCF launches new child welfare web site

Two days after Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a measure that requires greater openness from state child welfare administrators, the Department of Children & Families unveiled a new website designed to make a host of new information available to ordinary Floridians.

The website went live Wednesday morning, a week before the major provisions of a child welfare overhaul are expected to be implemented broadly. It also rolled out one day after a Miami-Dade grand jury blasted DCF for “intentionally and deliberately” undercounting the very child deaths that are reported at the site.

“This website will serve as an important tool to maximize transparency and to raise public awareness of the tragedies our department is committed to ending,” Interim DCF Secretary Mike Carroll said in a statement. “We know this data will be useful to communities statewide and will allow the department and our partners to improve child welfare practice and better protect children and assist at-risk families.”

The Senate bill Scott signed Monday overhauled Florida’s long-troubled child welfare system in the wake of a Miami Herald series, Innocents Lost, that detailed the abuse and neglect deaths of 477 children — most of them infants and toddlers — whose families had a history with the state. The measure requires far greater transparency from DCF, which has often been accused of using state confidentiality laws to shield accountability. More from Carol Marbin Miller here.