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Psychotropic cocktail may have contributed to Facebook Live suicide

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Part of a psychological evaluation administered to Naika Venant in June 2015 included a sentence completion test. For the beginning stem sentence “The thing I want to do most of all is …” the then-12-year-old girl responded: “Die happy.” Sentence tests can provide indications of attitudes, beliefs, motivations or other mental states. Other sentences she finished: “My best friend is … I don’t have a best friend.” “The person I’m most afraid of is … nobody.” “I would do anything…

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Breezing through committee: Welfare drug testing, DCF takes backseat in Walton County

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Two measures dealing with drug testing for certain public aid applicants and law enforcement taking over DCF’s role investigative role in another county met no resistance Tuesday. Among several bills heard by the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee were two dealing with applicants of temporary assistance for needy families (TANF) and child welfare investigations. With regard to TANF, Sen. Jack Latvala introduced SB 1392, a bill that would require applicants with felony drug convictions within 10 years from…

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House bills move ahead on loss of driver’s licenses, human trafficking, Baker Act

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Three bills dealing with issues of child support, sexual exploitation of minors and the controversial Baker Act were passed favorably by the House Children, Families and Seniors Subcommittee Monday. Rep. Kimberly Daniels introduced HB 313, while Rep. Jeanette Nuñez put forth her legislation on child trafficking in HB 1383 and Rep. David Silvers added his measure (HB 1183) to the meeting. Daniels’s proposal would give Florida judges greater flexibility in considering cases where defendants challenge the revocation of their driver’s…

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Records released by DCF portray different picture of mother in teen’s Facebook Live suicide

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The mother of a teen who committed suicide was in her car when she began receiving a trickle of text messages, Then a barrage of texts began streaming in. “Where’s your daughter,” one read. “Please please please check on your daughter,” read another. Gina Alexis, the mother of Naika Venant, the 14-year-old girl who hung herself with a scarf in January as hundreds watched, began to frantically make phone calls — first to Naika’s case worker. But no one picked…

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House committee OK’s bill to drug test temporary family aid seekers

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A bill that would require drug testing for adults of families previously convicted of drug offenses who are applying for temporary family assistance from the state of Florida passed a House committee Monday. Sponsored by Rep. Chris Latvala, the bill – HB 1117 — would mandate the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to give drug screenings to applicants of temporary assistance for needy families, or TANF, who have felony convictions or histories of drug-related offenses, and arrests, within 10…

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‘Foster Shock’ documentary takes Florida’s privatized child welfare system to task

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A documentary film about Florida’s privatized child welfare and fostering programs — made by a Guardian ad Litem and filmmaker from Palm Beach — casts a draconian look at what happens to children when they are taken from abusive situations at home and become dependents of the state, at taxpayer expense, often to their peril. “Foster Shock,” which is currently being screened around the state at community viewings and nationally film festivals, was directed and produced by Mari Frankel, who…

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Florida couple face ‘shocking’ 700+ counts of abuse against fostered, adopted children

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A couple living in southwest Florida have been charged in Alabama with 727 counts of sexual crimes and physical abuses against their 11 adopted and foster children, law enforcement officials in both states told FloridaPolitics.com Friday. Police in both states are calling it the most shocking case they’ve ever seen. “I’ve been working sex crimes involving kids for 12 years and this is by far the worst I’ve had so far,” Detective Keith Johnson, of the Florence Police Department in…

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