Florida’s top child welfare officials were on the defensive before a House committee on Wednesday as they defended an annual report on child deaths that had been stripped of data and embarrassing details about the state’s role in failing to protect the children whose lives were lost.
Secretary of the Department of Health John Armstrong told the House Committee on Children, Familes and Elders outlined the membership, duties and terms of appointment for the state Child Abuse Death Review Committee’s which, by law, must provide an analysis of what killed Florida children the year before.
But unlike previous years, which was nearly 200 pages long and included dozens of charts and graphs describing both the victims and perpetrators of child abuse, and brief memorials for several of the youngsters whose lives were cut short, the 2014 report was only 17 pages long.
The scaled-down death report came the same year the Miami Herald’s series Innocents Lost detailed the deaths of 477 children whose families were known to the Department of Children & Families.
“Ultimately, recommendations are only as good as the quality of data and analysis,’’ Armstrong told the House panel. He then introduced the chairman of the death review committee, Robin Perry, to explain the report.
Perry told the committee that said they are going to update the web site to include local committee reports reports, and past committee reports, but his goal is to produce a more “epidemiological approach” to the data in its analysis of the data.
Photo: DCF Secretary Mike Carroll, courtesy of DCF