December 30, 2020
Dear Ms. Hirt,
Thank you and USA Today for the critical investigative report regarding the Florida Department of Children and Families, “Florida blames mothers when men batter them – then takes away their children.” (Dec. 17, 2020.) The system is indeed “stacked” against women, particularly women who are survivors of abuse by an intimate partner.
Your article noted that, “Florida DCF considers exposing children to domestic violence a form of child abuse. That other states have moved from that approach” Activists and mothers alike know too well that this type of removal still happens in many other states.
We want to suggest that the local USA Today journalists partner with others to expand this article by looking at other states where children are suddenly and forcefully taken from mothers due to domestic violence.
DCF, as in your story and other parts of the country, put in place many challenging benchmarks for women to accomplish to regain custody of their children after their removal.
- Drug testing a victim, when drugs were never an issue.
- Requiring completion of all programs, some almost impossible to attend, and still maintain a job.
- Separating siblings into different foster families, too often in other counties, making it nearly impossible for a mother to visit her children regularly, as required to meet the programs’ demands.
We need a much larger lens to view the actual reality of what happens to women who are victims of abuse through no fault of their own. Women are not responsible for the triggers or patterns displayed by abusers and should not be held accountable for the violence they experience, but should be protected and allowed to protect their children as well.
We need to end the blame and shame of women who find themselves in a relationship with a violent partner. We, as a society, must improve our approach to protecting and supporting victims and children.
We urge USA Today to expand the Florida DCF investigation to include other parts of the United States to show the burdens far too many women suffer and the continued damage and trauma they and their children endure as the remedy to domestic violence.
Feel free to contact PBC NOW at email@example.com to reach Renee Beeker, Toni Van Pelt or any of this group. The people sending this letter and listed below are leaders in their community who have specific concern and expertise in this topic.
Toni Van Pelt, Indian Shores FL
Renee Beeker, Milford MI
Sheila Jaffe, Boca Raton FL
Natalie Andre, Delray Beach FL
Donna Mathews, Tulsa OK
Adele Guadalupe, Palm Beach County, FL
Linda Miklowitz, Tallahassee FL
Janet Clark, Lake Worth FL
Laura Fausone, Indialantic FL
BJ Star, Dunedin FL
Terry Sanders, Indialantic FL
Donna Slutiak, Ocklawaha, FL
A great letter. In my professional opinion removing a child from home can be much more abusive and traumatic than observing the original abuse(s).
As a GAL I observed how removing children was way more expensive that fixing a home to meet code, to say nothing about the trauma of removing the kids.
Long Days and Pleasant Nights–S. King
This is a great letter! Thank you for taking the effort to put this together.
Lindsay mancano says
I myself am actively being systematically abused by the abhorrent & outdated practices of DCF & “the department ” as I’msure many others are.
I realize I’m not special enough
to take the spot light they are doing it to us all.
After years of dealing with the department I have come to the Realization that its not only the dv victims but most especially the victims of poverty that are being especially targeted (being that the only legal representation they have available assists & works along side the state attorney’s office & department all of them working for the same unjust authority) extending
& adding services under false narratives to the poverty stricken cases with no voices, their cases taking as many as 3 yrs or more to complete where as the monitarily healthy individuals are able to complete their cases in as little as 1 yrs.
essentially playing a monopoly on the victims of DV and the sufferer’s of social economic deficits. While down playing their usage of mentally abusive tactics that they teach us to watch out for in the services they make mandatory in order to gain custody of our children they took away to begin with & boy if you don’t comply with their autocracy they will end up saying things like this to get for compliance:
‘You have achieved great success in the recent reunification of (name witheld) and we very much want to see you maintain your good path going forward.” Which is basically gental reminder that we have control of your life & your child if you speak out or dont comply we will thwart your efforts to keep your child.
Our representation balking their duties against our best interests. As they so seamlessly bow down to the every whim of the departments worst and most nefarious actions against us. The representation making no effort to use all the information
& evidence given in continuing to make sure that our due processes aren’t violated & voice isn’t stripped from us in the courts & our representatives never making mention any of the atrocities the department continues to put us through.
The departments efforts you ask? Verifiable & well documented incidents of fabricated stories where they stated something happened & it in fact didn’t using these tactics as a way to shirk any sort of responsibility or culpability in their actions or oversight when called out for them. So as a completely retaliatory effort they in turn falsify accounts & documents as a means to harm myself and others. What a show of brute force they make! And seemingly they’re not only not held accountable but also protected by the 5th amendment so these issues continue to happen for the most part unregulated as it were because at the end of the day it seems no one is ever held accountable, and no one seems to have to answer to any one.