DCF Chief David Wilkins Resigns Amid Scandal Over Four Dead Kids

Categories: News

David Wilkins has stepped down as the head of the Department of Children and Families, Gov. Rick Scott announced today. The former technology consultant turned public servant is dipping out at a convenient time. In the past three months, the agency has been accused of dropping the ball in four cases where children ended up dead.

The string of deaths began with toddler Dontrell Melvin, who was found buried in the backyard of his Hallandale Beach home. Melvin actually went missing in 2011, but his parents, Calvin Melvin and Brittney Sierra, weren't caught until child welfare investigators realized there were only two children living in the home when there should have been three.

About two months after Melvin's death was first reported came another depressing discovery. DCF employees had deemed Marisa Catalista Bruno's home "safe" only a few months before she was charged with the death of her 11-month-old son. Bruno, who had a history of alcohol-related arrests, including a DUI, left her child to die inside of a 109-degree car, the Miami Herald reported. In November of last year, she had been arrested for driving while intoxicated; Bruno was found passed out in her car, as her son sat in the front seat.

A month after that, Antwan Hope, Jr., a four-year-old child in foster care, was found dead in Coral Springs after DCF workers said it was OK for him to spend unsupervised time with his mother. Destene Simmons had a history of mental illness and a history of arrests.

The death of Ezra Raphael marked the fourth time in six weeks that a child was found dead after welfare workers said was perhaps the most egregious oversight. Cierrah Raphael was deemed a "high risk" after she left her son with a stranger in Gainesville so she could go turn tricks. She had already been deemed an unfit mother and had lost custody of another child. The two-year-old was found dead in North Miami Beach, where he was left alone with his mother's boyfriend who had a lengthy rap sheet.

After Raphael's death, DCF spokesperson Alexis Lambert told the Miami Herald: "The death of a child so young is a tragedy that is beyond comprehension. We will now focus our efforts on helping determine the circumstances that led to this child's death and working with law enforcement to hold those responsible accountable."

Wilkins is reportedly headed back to the private sector from whence he came in order to "pursue opportunities."

According to Scott: "David did a great job in leading the state's top child protection agency and his service is greatly appreciated."

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frankd4 topcommenter

why should we need a DCF anyway ?

these throw away kids are born only to qualify the parents for government hand-outs and food and housing subsidies

if the PARENTs don't care then WHY should the state ?

frankd4 topcommenter

unless one of these dead kids is named trayvon martin - no one will really care - because these are primary examples of BAD PARENTs

the only solution to this is NOT to have kids = period


He can't say he wasn't warned and although, I can't blame the top of the chain, he had the power and control to stop it.. We have DCF on crack since the beginning of the year, failing to follow the key mandates, the Fl Statues Chapter 39 and all policies and procedures.. Seasoned Senior Caseworkers and Supervisors have been leaving  daily, stating Ethical and Moral reasons and NO-one pays attention,, There is no accountability for the mistakes made in the field and instead of the Regional handling and getting a grip, everyone blames someone else. I am sick of Foster Care homes busting at the seams with kids that were not in imminent  danger or false reports and allegations and REAL cases being ignored or giving a stay at home safety plan...REALLY ? Where is the common sense ?

We have sub-contractors in Florida that abuse this system so badly for the Title IV funding, that it's sickening , they use these kids for cash, hold them against will from their families to drain the Social Security Federal Funding for their paycheck..

This has been a scam, it has never been in the Best Interest of the Children and WHY they use catch phrases like " Family First " , " My Florida Family " , of " The Department of Children and FAMILIES " is a complete farce and a slap in the face to every parent .

The Supreme Court has reminded us , The parent has the care, custody and control of the children and NO state has that power.. So, unless you have blatant and severe cases of abuse, neglect or abandonment , 

DCF has zero rights to intrude on your family , However,  The circuit courts will follow the opinion of DCF regardless if it is fabricated , misleading or false and under Perjury , They will torture you and your family , until the applet court  hears the case and anyone who committed that perjury will never be held accountable.

In closing, No matter who is running the show at DCF, It is the going to continue on this path until the people demand oversight and accountability with the caseworkers first. They are the one who make that call, it is all in the listeners and observers opinion and that is wrong. The Mandates were set for a reason, the law was set for a reason and they should be followed as such ! 


Same storyline just the next crew that took over from prior resignations. At the end of the day, there is no substitute for quality parenting. The one's that are lousy parents, these folks need to stop breeding, they aren't responsible enough to have pets.

frankd4 topcommenter

my theory is all this is purposeful in that it should be a mess

let's start with why it is the problem of the state to raise someone else's child - no one else would take resposibility

of course it is NOT the child's FAULT they are in such a situation - the child did not ask to be born to bad parents - but what else could be done with these kids ?

i place the ultimate BLAME on the parents not DCF although it comes as no surprise that a government bureaucracy is a total mess - it's just that real people,  children,  are involved



I wish I could agree with  you 100% , However, as a Court watcher for Dependency cases, Over the past year, DCF has violated too many laws and more open cases are actually false allegations. It use to be 15%, however, now , I have seen approx. 40% of the cases with zero merit.. The biggest problem is exactly what Wilkins was trying to point out. Abuse of Funding to sub-contracted agencies. Once the case is handed to that agency, it takes on a life of it's own and becomes a Cash for Kids Scam. Cases are held up in court for years. Parents have to jump through hoops of fire and still the fight never ends.. It is the saddest I have ever seen it

frankd4 topcommenter

@comments2marian @frankd4 

the abuses will continue in ANY provided service where there is NO competition and since many vendors who could participate do not because of the nature of the business these abuses will continue

as for individuals as well not everyone is cut out to be a provider and those that do tend to extract a premium for their services which amount to the scams you mentioned since scams don't just happen on their own

as for the judiciary the legal involvement always INTENDs to be beneficial to the welfare of children and many times actually is BUT the limitations here get back to the providers, either the vendors or individuals, and we know how that goes - no judge no matter how big-hearted is going to volunteer to have a group of these kids come to the house for a pool party

as for the PARENTs i would say people disconnected to this issue will most always point to the PARENTs being primarily responsible NOT the state so all these other issues become OLIVER TWIST stories 

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