ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Multiple missed opportunities to prevent a tragedy — that is the finding of the state's investigation into the case of a slain toddler in Largo.
- LINK: DCF statement on Jordan Belliveau case
- PDF: Read 17-page report
- Previous stories about Jordan Belliveau, Charisse Stinson
The Florida Department of Children and Families on Wednesday released a 17-page report about its investigation into the death of 2-year-old Jordan Belliveau. His body was found last fall in a wooded area in Largo.
His mother, 21-year-old Charisse Stinson, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.
The state found that there were clear warning signs and that policies were not properly followed.
The report cites a lack of communication between parties that included the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, Largo Police, Eckerd Connects and the State Attorney's Office.
It says there was "an absence of shared ownership between all entities involved throughout the life of Jordan's case."
Among the findings in the report were that Stinson misled case managers and the court several times and did not comply with clinical checkups.
But, according to the report, the same court and case managers failed to delay or put a stop to the process that ultimately kept Jordan in harm's way.
In one such event, Jordan's mother got into a fight with another woman at a fast food restaurant while holding onto Jordan, and the toddler was hurt in the process.
And a month and a half before Jordan's death, Largo Police responded to a domestic violence incident between Jordan's father, Jordan Belliveau Sr., and Stinson. The father was arrested and reportedly told police, "There is going to be a lot of dead cops tomorrow, and I’m going to kill that (woman) too."
Eckerd Connects, which oversaw case management and mental health services, said in a statement to Spectrum Bay News 9: "Many of the challenges and opportunities identified in the report are already being addressed."
In a summary of the report, DCF Secretary Chad Poppell said: "Reviewing the events that led up to Jordan’s death is incredibly saddening. Despite multiple opportunities, no one changed his circumstances.
"DCF policies were not followed, communication throughout the process was poor, and several clear warning signs were missed. There were even specific concerns raised that were not acted upon. This report should be a call to action for the entire child welfare system, and I intend to treat it as one."
Gov. Ron DeSantis said he supports Poppell's efforts.
"The death of Jordan Belliveau is a tragedy," the governor said. "I appreciate Secretary Poppell for taking swift action to address the findings of the report in his first week on the job. Secretary Poppell has my full support to immediately conduct a comprehensive assessment of the Pinellas County child welfare system. Those responsible will be held accountable."
Full text of agency statements
DIRECTIONS FOR LIVING:
We at Directions for Living are more than just saddened and forever changed by Jordan’s death; this case is a critical reminder of the need for constant improvement within our own agency and across our industry.
The case manager who was primarily responsible for this case is no longer with our agency. However, the case manager assigned to the case at the time of Jordan’s death, who had been on the case for 5 months at that point, is still with our agency at this time. That case manager, along with every other person who was involved in this case in any way, was placed on an immediate corrective action plan last September, up to and including disciplinary action, including extensive re-training (more information below). Please note that while we immediately took this action following Jordan’s death, we too have been awaiting the release of this report to inform further steps which may be necessary to address concerns related to this case.
In addition to those specific steps to address staff working on this case, Directions for Living in collaboration with Eckerd Connects developed and implemented an agency-wide action plan immediately following Jordan’s death to address the global opportunities and challenges related to this case, which were echoed again in the report which was just released. This action plan, which has been underway for months, includes but is not limited to:
- Facilitation of better partnerships and communication between DFL and all other agencies that work in the child welfare system and with the children we serve, specifically even more timely communication about risk and treatment outcomes related to our cases
- Conducting internal reviews of all children we serve who are ages 0-5 in the post-reunification population, triple-checking for warning signs which we could address to prevent future safety concerns
- All-staff training on effective case planning and how to base treatment around case plans
- All-Child Safety staff training on Mental Health First Aid, which focuses on identifying problems earlier and linking our clients to the services they actually need as soon as they need them
- All-staff training on understanding social determinants of health
- All-staff training on domestic violence and substance abuse, and their impacts on our cases
- Position-specific training on effective safety planning as needed
- Development of a Performance Improvement Team committed to improving the integration of behavioral health and child welfare via revision of relevant policies, procedures, forms, and language used to ensure no future miscommunications occur
Above all else, we want to use this opportunity to improve where needed so that we can continue to provide the most effective services possible to children and families throughout Tampa Bay.
-April Lott, President & CEO, Directions for Living
Eckerd Connects is committed to working with all our partners including the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Child Protective Investigations Division (“CPID”), the State Attorney’s Office, the Guardian Ad Litem’s Office, our case management and mental health providers, and all those that are given the sacred responsibility of protecting children in our community.
In doing so, communication and transparency are paramount to ensuring the safety of our most vulnerable citizens. Many of the challenges and opportunities identified in the report are already being addressed.
The subcontractors that we have authority over have developed an action plan in response to the finding to facilitate better partnerships and communication among all those that work in the child welfare system.
Any time there is a child fatality, we must examine the system of care and determine what could have been done differently. And then, we must all collaborate to make those changes effective.
In receiving the statements by DCF that accompanied the release of the report we welcome the full review of the system of care and will aggressively address any recommendations or corrective action items identified in addition to what we have already commenced.
As we have repeatedly stated, our system in Pinellas and Pasco Counties as well as Hillsborough County has had a significant influx of children over the last three years in paid placements, which has increased 39 percent in Hillsborough and 32 percent in Pasco and Pinellas, yet our funding has not kept pace.
Our circuits have the most children in care in the state, yet we are funded significantly less than other communities. We continue to operate at a significant deficit this year as we have for the last three years.
We have been working with our legislators to address this issue. While there can be no excuse for such a tragic event, we must invest in this system to improve our ability to protect these children and assure the staff have the support and the time that these very complex situations require.
-Dr. Chris Card, Eckerd Connects Chief of Community-Based Care
PINELLAS COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE:
We are analyzing the Special Review report and welcome the opportunity to increase the level of collaboration and communication among all the child welfare system stakeholders. The report points out an area where the stakeholders need to collectively communicate in a more timely manner and we will be working toward implementing changes to ensure that happens.
We will also further review the report and consider other opportunities to ensure effective child welfare in our county.
-Pinellas County Sheriff's Office