A Miami-Dade grand jury accused Florida child welfare administrators Tuesday of “intentionally and deliberately” manipulating the investigation of child deaths because of abuse and neglect — making it appear that fewer children were dying across the state, reports the Miami Herald. In a 30-page report that explores whether the Department of Children & Families has improved since the shocking 2011 death of 10-year-old Nubia Barahona, grand jurors found much that pleased them. But they also scolded the agency for what they described as a systematic attempt to conceal the true number of children whose lives are cut short by abuse or neglect.
The grand jury report, handed up to Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Gisela Cardonne, comes on the heels of a series of stories about the issue in the Miami Herald. Details of the series are discussed in the report. Grand jurors confirmed the Herald's findings that DCF had revised its definition of “neglect,” resulting in an artificial reduction in the number of children reported to have died the past four years.