Miami child-welfare caseworkers, battered by constant threats and ”intimidation” from bosses to work quickly, closed abuse reports without ever ensuring children were safe, a report from Florida’s chief inspector general concludes. The report portrayed abuse investigators in Miami as a harried bunch who were constantly browbeaten by local agency heads to adhere to often meaningless standards and then ”ridiculed” when they failed to measure up. Workers were ranked on a ”leaderboard” and punished when they fell behind, reports the Miami Herald.
One high-ranking Department of Children & Families administrator described the leadership style of the then-top Miami child welfare chief as management ”by data” — and the report suggests that the constant performance measurements had become divorced from the agency’s primary mission: the protection of children. The inspector general’s report, which took six months to complete after a whistle-blower complained, included a review of 64 abuse and neglect cases that were closed either for lack of DCF ”jurisdiction” or as duplicates of other complaints to DCF’s abuse hot-line. It concluded 54 of the cases had been closed improperly.