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DCF says it’s cut Pinellas and Pasco County family separations in half since taking over for Eckerd Connects in November

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Pinellas had been especially criticized for exceeding the state average for removals.

Florida’s Department of Children and Families announced Thursday it had reduced the number of family separations in Pinellas and Pasco counties by 50% in the first 45 days since taking over foster care service from Eckerd Connects.

The struggling lead agency was informed in November that its contracts with the state would not be renewed. That news came the same day Eckerd Connects issued a statement that it wished to drop the state as a client.

Eckerd had been the lead agency in Pinellas and Pasco since 2008. In that time, Pinellas was especially criticized for removing children from homes at rates that more than doubled the state average.

“Eckerd’s recent actions and inactions have jeopardized the health, safety and welfare of the dependent children under your care,” DCF Secretary Shevaun Harris wrote to Eckerd in November. “Coupled with a history of placing youth in unlicensed settings for extended periods of time, and repeated failure to secure appropriate and stable placements for all children in Eckerd’s system of care, they call into question your ability to fulfill your contractual obligations. In response to Eckerd’s repeated failures, the Department will not renew Contract # QJ511.”

Family Support Services of North Florida, now operating as Family Support Services of Suncoast, was quickly selected to take over. But in the waning days of 2021, DCF stepped in to take over foster care services during the transition.

“I’m incredibly proud of my team for making such significant strides in a short period of time,” Harris said. “We have worked hard with our partners in law enforcement in Circuit 6 to reduce the removal rate and make sure that the children who can safely remain with their families are supported and have access to the needed services and community resources.”

Harris said DCF was able to achieve some quick wins by mobilizing a mobile response team, bolstering the frontline child welfare team members and reviewing 1,600 “out-of-home cases to determine immediate safety and permanency needs.”

DCF said its new venture, Hope Florida, also helped. Hope Florida is a new initiative the state says makes it easier for families to be guided to and access the right kind of support services.

But not everyone celebrated the reduction as a victory. Child welfare advocate Richard Wexler of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform said Harris deserves credit for admitting “wrongful removal is a problem” and taking steps to cure it. However, he added the announcement is not a “testament to sudden success but to horrifying long-term failure – by Eckerd, by the Sheriffs and by DCF itself.”

Though Eckerd was the lead agency, the Sheriff’s Office in a given county typically serves as the child protective investigator, the investigative branch of the foster care system responsible for determining when removals are appropriate. Those decisions are then reviewed by the courts.

Wexler said the dramatic and sudden reduction in removals shows the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office was unnecessarily removing hundreds, if not thousands, of children and wittingly placed them in conditions that were unsanitary and unsafe.

“Last year Pinellas County Sheriff (Bob) Gualtieri was piously proclaiming that his office never, ever took away a child needlessly. He even said his officers followed DCF’s framework for investigations ‘to a T.’ Pasco wasn’t much better,” Wexler said. “Yet, now, miraculously, their officers are finding 50% less child abuse? No. The real reason for the reduction is that, at last, others in the system grew a backbone and pressed the sheriffs to stop confusing poverty with neglect and stop tearing apart families needlessly at among the highest rates in Florida.”

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office declined a request to comment on what the reduction in removals says about its previous standards and practices.


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Joe Biden Website Promises to Ship Four Free Coronavirus Tests to Residents Within 7-12 Days

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The White House announced Tuesday President Joe Biden’s website for Americans to request free coronavirus tests was now live.

Officials said the website, covidtests.gov, was live but still remained in the beta phase of the programming and testing process.

The president expects to officially launch the website on Wednesday as he also plans to hold an official press conference at the White House to mark his upcoming one-year anniversary as president.

Families can request four free coronavirus tests on the website after putting in their name and address.

The government will begin shipping the test within 7-12 days, according to a notice on the website.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki acknowledged during the daily briefing that the website was live, but only operating in a limited capacity.

“We can’t guarantee there won’t be a bug or two,” she said.

Biden is struggling to catch up on testing, despite being in charge of the pandemic for a year as president.

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Joe Biden replaces the mask he wears. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Many Americans trying to travel and gather with family over the Christmas holiday were unable to get access to tests or faced long waits in line for several hours at testing centers.

Biden was initially defensive about his administration’s performance, scoffing at questions from reporters during a December event on fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

“What took so long is it didn’t take long at all,” he said, complaining the omicron variant of the virus caught everyone off guard.

Despite Biden’s efforts to ramp up and increase testing capacity, state governors have called out the federal government for making it harder to get tests for their residents.

“You know, so now it’s sort of hijacking the tests that we already had plans for, and we’re now getting some of those providers to tell us they no longer have the rapid tests,” Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said in an interview on CBS on Sunday.

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Survey: Global Majority Feel Misled by Media, Business, Political Leaders

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The majority of people across the globe feel that are being misled by journalists, government leaders, and business executives, according to Edelman’s 2022 global “Trust Barometer.”

The survey found that 67 percent of people globally are “convinced” they are being “purposely” misled by journalists and reporters, which is up eight percent from 2021.

Additionally, 66 percent think their country’s government leaders “purposely” mislead them, which has risen nine percent from 2021, while 63 percent said business leaders “purposely” mislead them, which has increased seven percent from 2021.

When respondents were asked about trust,  46 percent said they do not trust journalists, which has risen one percent from last year.

Additionally, 42 percent said they do not trust the county’s government leaders, which has risen one percent from last year. 49 percent said they do not trust CEOs, which has grown one percent from last year.

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 08: U.S. President Joe Biden stops to talk to reporters before departing the White House December 08, 2021, in Washington, DC. According to the White House, Biden is traveling to Kansas City, Missouri, to talk about how the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will aid in the repair and construction of roads and bridges, update public transit, create jobs, and other benefits.

WASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 08: U.S. President Joe Biden stops to talk to reporters. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

However, 66 percent of the respondents said they trust their own CEO, which has risen three percent since 2021.

The survey also found that 76 percent “worry about false information or fake news being used as a weapon,” which has risen four percent since last year.

Edelman’s survey had 31,050 respondents globally, spanning 27 countries. The survey was taken between November 1 and 24 of last year and had a margin of error plus or minus 0.6 percent points.

Jacob Bliss is a reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter.

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Nolte: Congressional Generic Ballot Has GOP Up 9 Points over Democrats

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“The 2022 midterm elections are now 294 days away, and Republicans maintain a strong lead in their bid to recapture control of Congress,” notes Rasmussen Reports.

“[I]f the elections for Congress were held today, 48% of Likely U.S. Voters would vote for the Republican candidate, while 39% would vote for the Democrat,” the pollster reported. “Just four percent (4%) would vote for some other candidate, but another nine percent (9%) are not sure.”

Rasmussen showed these same results back in December.

Rasmussen is not only one of the most respectable and reliable pollsters out there and has been for two decades; these results track with what we see everywhere.

To begin with, His Fraudulency Joe Biden’s approval rating sits in the low 40s, while his disapproval rating is in the 50s. On top of that, Gallup just released a poll that showed a 14 point swing to Republicans over 2021.

Other pollsters show the generic ballot closer, but those pollsters are not as reliable as Rasmussen. What’s more, history has shown us that the Republican party can enjoy sweeping victories even when they are tied or close in this specific poll.

For example, in 2014, there was a huge red wave, even though the GOP was only up an average of 2.4 points. In 2010, the GOP swamped the Democrats, and the generic poll only had Republicans up by two points. As is the case with almost all polls, the Republican party tends to outperform the polling while Democrats tend to underperform.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 02: People visit a voting site at a YMCA on Election Day, November 02, 2021 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Over 30,000 New Yorkers have already cast their ballots in early voting for a series of races including the race for mayor in which Democrat Eric Adams is running against Republican and Curtis Sliwa. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

People visit a voting site at a YMCA on Election Day, November 02, 2021 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Even the left-wing serial liars over at NBC News are using the word “shellacking” to describe what’s coming for the Democrat party in this year’s midterms:

Over the last 30 years, the NBC News poll has given us a good idea if the president’s party is headed for an exceptionally good midterm election, a shellacking, or somewhere in-between.

And right now, the arrows are pretty much pointing in the “shellacking” territory for President Biden and the Democrats as we debut our Midterm Meter, which will use our poll to gauge the overall political environment for the president’s party.

NBC points out that right now, a whopping 71 percent of the public say the country’s on the wrong track, Joe Biden’s job approval sits at 52 percent, and…

In 1994, 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018 — when the president’s party suffered big losses — overwhelming majorities said the country was headed on the wrong track before the election; each president’s job rating was below 50 percent; and the president’s party trailed on the generic ballot.

Joe Biden and his Democrat party are in full control of the federal government. The result is chaos, misery, and disease: empty store shelves, a spike in violent crime, record inflation, a southern border in chaos, and a raging coronavirus. Additionally, Russia, North Korea, and China are getting adventurous, and who knows how many American hostages are still stuck in Afghanistan?

Add to that the culture wars Democrats have launched to include racism and gay porn in public school curriculum and to force all of us to believe a man can magically transform into a woman.

As I’ve said before, this country is on the verge of something more than a shellacking. Instead, we are headed for a significant political realignment.

Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC. Follow his Facebook Page here.

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