DCF Tracking Workers With High Tech Gear

Fingerprinting and constant contact are two ways the welfare service has changed since Rilya Wilson

By Willard Shepard
|  Tuesday, Aug 17, 2010  |  Updated 3:49 PM EDT
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DCF Worker Technology

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405099 01: An undated photo of 5-year-old Rilya Wilson from a missing poster May 8, 2002 in Miami, FL. Wilson has been missing since January 2001 when someone claiming to work for the Florida Department of Children and Families (DFC) took her from her grandmother's home. The DFC reported her missing on April 25, 2002 and has no record of anyone taking her. (Photo courtesy of Miami-Dade Police Department/Getty Images)

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DCF Worker Technology

DCF is making changes to ensure no child slips between the cracks.
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When it comes to protecting kids who could be abused or with unfit parents, Emannual Olajide is the first line of defense.

"When I get a call, it comes with allegations the child was neglected, abandoned or abused," he said.

But before the state puts Olajide on the road, it wants to know everything about him.

DCF Human Resources Director Stacey Hipsman has seen a huge change in the steps to ensure integrity on the job with case workers and investigators in the field. Now, thanks to a fingerpinting product called Lifescan, which delivers results within 36 hours, DCF can find out almost anything about a potential worker responsible for kids' safety.

Workers like Nancy Brun and Robin Briseno carry blackberries and laptops so their bosses know where they are at all times -- no more mistakes, as was the case with Rilya Wilson.

"If something happens to us, something happens to a child, we need to be held accountable," Briseno said, "[they need] to be able locate us."

"We've done a lot of to ensure the safety of the children and to keep informed that they are doing well," Jacqui Colyer, DCF Regional Director, added. "We are also proud of the programs that have worked with families to keep a greater number of children in the home."

All of these tracking measures come out of the Rilya tragedy.

The state says the little girl's case worker lied for 18 months about visiting Wilson and was never at the South Dade home when the paperwork indicated she was seeing the child. Proseuctors say Wilson's grandmother Geralyn Graham killed the girl.

Now, workers' fingerprints are sent to every law enforcement agency imaginable to investigate any possible trouble, and the process is now manditory for all DCF investigators and case workers.

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