TAMPA — A foster care service has dropped a $9.2 million deal and been reported to the state’s abuse hotline following reports that its staff left nurture children unsupervised.
Eckerd Connects, the lead child welfare service from Tampa Bay, said Tuesday that it is terminating its contract with Family and Youth Alternatives to offer case management for children in Hillsborough County.
This comes after the agency dropped a teenage girl early on Jan. 24 facing an Eckerd office in Tampa alone, hungry and crying, Eckerd said in announcement.
A subsequent investigation by Eckerd discovered that children being left unsupervised by YFA has been “not an isolated event.”
Eckerd has reported the incidents to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, which conducts investigations into allegations of child abuse and neglect to the county as well as the Florida Department of Children and Families.
“It was an isolated clinic happening so we chose to complete the deal,” explained Doug Tobin, Eckerd spokesman.
Spokeswoman Lisa Brock said YFA behaved once it discovered that children were being left unsupervised. Case managers were having to handle some teens who occasionally refuse to go to college and to foster homes.
“After we became more aware that children were unsupervised we immediately stopped that practice and clearly people in the child welfare system are still dealing with human beings and, in part, these teenagers come out of mistreated and abused backgrounds and don’t always conform and cooperate,” she explained.
She added that YFA will continue to work to come up with solutions about how to deal with hard-to-place teens in foster care.
This contract’s conclusion will not take effect. Eckerd plans to run a crisis bid procedure to discover a new service to substitute YFA, that was managing some 1,700 children in Hillsborough, Tobin said.
Eckerd’s choice will not impact YFA’s $5 million deal with Eckerd to provide case management services. “We experienced numerous stakeholders that said Pasco operations and management was running easily,” Tobin said.
Tobin added that the decision wasn’t in reaction to some WFLA story that teens spent hours sitting in a vehicle at a petrol station with a YFA case manager so its connection could be used by them.
DCF Secretary Mike Carroll said that case managers who have face-to-face interaction with children have a duty not and to receive them of the counseling and services locate them a bed at evening.
“It appears that wasn’t occurring, and their contract has been terminated as a consequence of bad case management,” he explained.
“DCF has been working with Eckerd on brief- and – long-term solutions for this dilemma since it was brought to our attention on Jan. 24 and we will continue to closely track Eckerd’s progress to ensure safe and proper placements for each adolescent in their maintenance.”
Adolescents who refuse to cooperate with case managers have been a hassle for Eckerd for a while.
In 2016, the agency admitted that mostly older teens, 43 children, had slept in offices and additional locations that were unlicensed as it could not place them in homes.
In May, Eckerd declared a contract with Camelot Community Care to run the Ybor Heights adolescent center, which is used to house and supervise children entering the foster care system until they have been placed with foster parents or in a group residence.
The Tampa Police Department had reacted to 13 disturbance calls and 57 runaway reports at the center in a interval, documents show.
Contact Christopher O’Donnell at [email protected] or -LRB-813-RRB- 226-3446. Follow @codonnell_Times.