Report: Child welfare workers too trusting

July 26, 2011 at 11:15 AM
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MIAMI, July 26 (UPI) -- Florida child welfare workers did nothing to Jorge and Carmen Barahona when allegations of possible child abuse and neglect were made, a grand jury report said.

The grand jury report, issued Monday, said a Department of Children and Families investigator was so trusting that when the agency received a report Feb. 10 that twins Victor and Nubia Barahona were tied up and locked in a bathtub, the investigator left the Barahona home without seeing the children and wrote they were at little risk of harm, The Miami Herald reported Tuesday.

Nubia Barahona, 10, was found dead in the back of her adoptive father's pickup truck in Broward on Valentine's Day. Her brother Victor, was found doused with deadly chemicals and slouched in the truck's cab and the father was found unconscious next to the cab.

"Were Nubia and Victor in the house tied up in that bathtub at that very moment?" grand jurors asked in the 25-page report. "We will never know."

The Barahonas were indicted on charges of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and neglect for the girl's death and the boy's alleged abuse.

"We appreciate the hard work and effort that the grand jury put into their report and recommendations," said Lissette Valdes-Valle, a DCF spokeswoman in Miami, said in a statement. "We are thoroughly reviewing the grand jury's recommendations in order to see what supplemental actions we can incorporate to prevent a similar tragedy from occurring in the future."

The non-binding report recommended the state agency require all privately run foster-care agencies to handle some case management responsibilities in-house and that child welfare workers have complete access to databases of reports of allegations about at-risk children, among other things, the Herald said.

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