DCF To Cut 500 Employees - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

DCF To Cut 500 Employees

TALLAHASSEE, FL (WFLX) The warning signals were sounded, but they weren't loud enough to save the life of 13-month-old Ezekiel Mathis. Mathis died from wounds investigators say were inflicted by his mother's boyfriend.

Abuse had been reported, but the Attorney General's office had authority over the case, and chose to keep Ezekiel and his mom united.

Now the Department of Children and Families is asking for all questionable cases to be brought before their investigators. But they'll be taking on the extra work with a lighter staff.

Because of state budget cuts, 500 DCF employees will lose their jobs next month.

"People who directly relate to clients and act as first line responders for families and children in need, we are not going to touch those positions," said DCF spokesman Joe Follick.

The department says the cuts will have no impact on its child protection services, but children's advocates say that's not good enough. They say the front line needs to be beefed up and point to the death of a south Florida girl as evidence that the department needs more staff.

10-year-old Nubia Barahona was killed in February, after reports of abuse by her adoptive parents made it to DCF administrators.

In response to the Barahona death, DCF has added 80 case workers. The layoffs will be spread through out the state and finalized by the end of June. Many of the positions eliminated will be at three state mental hospitals in Gainesville, Chattahoochee, and Macclenny.

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