VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. — When two children ran away from their group home last Tuesday before breaking in a home and opening fire on deputies, employees called 911 quickly.
The two were placed at Florida United Methodist Children’s Home by the Department of Children and Families
Channel 9 spoke with Dr. Deborah Day, a psychologist on DCF’s child protection team who explained the process.
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“Typically, when a child is removed by the Department of Children and Families, there have been significant allegations of abuse or neglect,” Day said. “And the family is deemed unsafe to continue to have those children in their home.”
It’s unclear when the 12-year-old and 14-year-old were removed from their families, but reports on file with the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office show a turbulent past for the two.
The 14-year-old girl had 33 encounters with deputies since 2017. Most of the calls were because she and her siblings were walking their neighborhood while they should be in school, asking people for food and free animals and rides home after they slept outside.
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According to the reports, DCF was contacted dozen times before the now 14-year-old girl was removed from her family. Document show she had been diagnosed with a handful of mental illnesses, and she also made suicidal threats.
The girl was hospitalized under the Baker Act 11 times.
Day said DCF’s Child Protection Team will do specialized interviews and potentially a psychological exam to understand what a child’s needs are from a psychological perspective.
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“We often need to have that information to establish a case plan to know what is best for a child once they’ve been abused or neglected or removed from their family’s home,” Day said.
The 12-year-old boy was taken into custody under the Baker Act three times in a 10-day period in 2016.
“We are getting better at looking at the risk factors associated with violence,” Day said. “But we don’t have a crystal ball. So we look at it as a risk factor. risks are high, low, medium, and so they fall within ranges.”
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