May 04, 2001

Part One:

Info request nets invoice for $481,118

The information that Robin Eddins of Mascotte requested from the Department of Children and Families is to come at a high price of $481,118.

Part Two:

Woman's DCF request gets more complicated

Staff photo by Jack Hardman of The Daily Commercial

The Daily Commercial
May 04, 2001

Info request nets invoice for $481,118

Daily Commercial Correspondent

Robin Eddins of Mascotte holds an invoice from the DCF requesting payment of almost half a million dollars for information on deaths of kids in foster care.

She got the estimate for her public records request in April. According to Allen Roman of DCF, some of the information that Eddins asked for is ìso intertwined with the masses of department files that the information cannot be delivered to Eddins request without also delivering ìmasses of department files.

Among the records that Eddins has asked for are death records for all children claimed by the departmentî for the last three fiscal years.

She says that her starting point for that request was a DCF press release that said that 82 children died ìat the hands of their caretakersî in Florida in 1998. She wanted more information.

Eddins said, "If 82 died at the hands of parents in one year, that is a major problem. If five died with parents and the others died in state custody ó thatís a different problem. It would behoove the general public to k now whose killing everybody. Letís get fair and accurate."

Roman wrote, ìAccording the Departmentís best estimates at this time, the volume of documents containing information requested in your letter ... is estimated to be approximately 66,630 pages, not including the almost two-million page estimate referred to in the prior paragraph.

Roman calculated the 66,630 pages at $.15 a page equals $9,994.50 with 1,154 hours labor at $10.88 an hour, which would be an additional $12,555.52.

If you still wish to pursue the records associated with unfounded reports, and using only the estimates from the single district of the Department's 15 districts which attempted to get an estimate for you, the estimated costs will increase by 1,998,000 pages time $.15 per page equals $297,000. The estimated costs associated with copying and redacting those additional pages equals 14,850 hours times $10.88 per hour equals $161,568.

But Eddins canít understand why her request should take more than two million pages to fulfill. She also wants to know what would be done with the requested funds.

She said, "I'm asking [DCF] to specify clearly what happens to the funds ó where does it go, what do you do with it? Why does it take so many pages to answer this?"

Eddins interest in DCF started in 1999, when her two children were removed by DCF. They children were returned 6 months later, and the charges that DCF had levied against Eddins were dismissed by a judge four months after that.

Eddins started trying to get information from DCF shortly after she recovered her children.

She is particularly interested in what happens to children who are removed from their homes in cases that are later determined to have had no merit.

Her basic question of DCF is "are they doing more harm than good?" But she doesn't think she should have to pay a half million dollars to find out.

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Woman's DCF request gets more complicated

Daily Commercial Correspondent

Robin Eddins quest for information from the department of Children and Families got more complicated late this week, as she received word from Tallahassee that part of the information she has requested can only be released by court order. Eddins initial reply from Tallahassee included a $481,118 estimate of the cost of filling her request.

The latest communication drops the estimate to approximately $22,000 for the roughly 66,000 pages, as the other 2 million pages have been at least temporarily denied. The denial pertains to records on children who are currently alive.

The records on dead children are not being denied. Eddins initial public records request, sent in February, asked for four years worth of information on children who have been harmed or neglected while in foster care, as well as three years worth of information on children who have been killed while known to the department.

She also wants to know how many cases closed without findings involved children removed from their parents. Eddins personal interest in DCF started in 1999 when the department removed her two children. The charges against Eddins were dismissed 4 months after her children were returned. Eddins starting point for her public records request was a DCF press release showing that 82 children had died at the hands of their caretakers in 1998. According to Owen Roach of DCF in Tallahassee, death summaries for those children in that one year should cost about $400-500. Eddins underlying concern is whether DCF is doing more harm than good. She does not really want 2 million documents delivered to her. She wants the statistics. And she's been trying to get those statistics for quite some time.

Eddins says that last summer she was told that DCF does not break reports down in a manner that allows the information she wants to be easily extracted. She was told she would be given an estimate on just how much it would cost to implement the software necessary to track the information.

She's still waiting. She says that "I've asked for this in so many different ways, I don't see why I can't get simple answers to simple questions."

These stories have been reproduced without any changes to the copy as printed in THE DAILY COMMERCIAL, an Orlando newspaper.

©2000 All rights reserved.Privacy Policy. All other trademarks and Registered trademarks are property of their respective owners.

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