MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – A facility that the state paid $80 million to supply protected foster properties for youngsters is beneath a felony investigation after kids have been discovered dwelling in “disgusting and deplorable” circumstances, a Florida sheriff stated.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri stated he’s investigating Eckerd Connects after kids have been discovered to be sleeping on cots and beneath desks, some in soiled garments and with out entry to toiletries, towels, or scorching meals.
“The circumstances are as unhealthy or worse than the dwelling circumstances from which the youngsters have been eliminated,” Gualtieri stated.
He’s additionally involved a couple of collection of current accidents and incidents that elevate questions in regards to the kids’s care, the Tampa Bay Occasions reported.
Final week, a baby fell off a ladder and minimize open his abdomen whereas making an attempt to climb onto the roof, Gualtieri stated.
He offered different examples: A baby was hospitalized after overdosing on one other little one’s treatment; a employee of an unlicensed care facility was driving a 14-year-old little one when a gun fell onto the automobile’s floorboard.
Dozens of youngsters have been cycled by way of unlicensed amenities, together with one whose director was being investigated for conspiring to distribute hydrocodone, Gualtieri stated.
The Clearwater-based nonprofit has run foster care in Pinellas and Pasco counties since 2008.
The sheriff stated throughout a news convention on Thursday that he’s launching two separate investigations:
One centered on the safety of youngsters beneath the company’s care; the opposite a felony investigation into the nonprofit and its high-level staff.
The sheriff stated case managers and different lower-level staff are “between a rock and a tough place” and gained’t be charged with wrongdoing.
“It’s not truthful to carry these low-level people who find themselves making a couple of dollars an hour (accountable) who’re making an attempt to do the very best they will,” he stated.
The Florida Division of Kids and Households introduced Monday that it gained’t renew the company’s annual contract to supply little one welfare providers.
Eckerd launched a press release Thursday promising full cooperation with the probes because it cares for youngsters beneath its present contract.
“Eckerd Connects’ mission is to assist the well being and wellbeing of youngsters and households in want within the Tampa Bay space, and we is not going to tolerate any acts of neglect or abuse by any of our workers or subcontracted companies,” the assertion stated.
The company had beforehand blamed care points on insufficient state funding. The sheriff stated Thursday that funding isn’t any excuse.
”All of us bought cash issues,” he stated, “however we make it occur.”
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https://miami.cbslocal.com/2021/11/06/tampa-area-child-welfare-agency-under-criminal-investigation/ | Tampa-Space Youngster Welfare Company Underneath Legal Investigation – CBS Miami