On January 24, 2018 Eckerd Connects became aware of a teenage foster youth who was left in front of an Eckerd Connects office unsupervised. Eckerd Connects staff immediately reported this incident to the Florida Abuse Hotline, Department of Children and Families, and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office – Child Protective Division.
Upon investigation the practice of leaving youth unsupervised alone in the community by YFA staff was not an isolated incident. Eckerd Connects and Lorita Shirley acted by terminating YFA’s contract the morning of February 6, prior to the 6:00PMWFLA broadcast.
The practice of leaving children unsupervised is different than the November 15th Wufoo notification where children were refusing placement and remained under YFA supervision.
We will be working closely with DCF and their child welfare experts from around the state to independently review challenges in the Hillsborough County foster care system and follow through with any recommendations to help improve the system of care.