Friday, November 2, 2012

Religious children's homes in Florida

"In God's name: Unlicensed religious children's homes"

There is no litmus test to determine whether a home is truly guided by religion.

Very much not the issue.

In this state, unlicensed religious homes can abuse children and go on operating for years. Almost 30 years ago, Florida legislators passed a law eliminating state oversight of children's homes that claim government rules hamper their religious practices.

Instead of state-trained child safety workers, these homes are regulated by the Florida Association of Christian Child Caring Agencies, a private, nonprofit group run almost entirely by the same people who run the homes.

Very much the issue.

More must be done, says Robert Friedman, a psychologist and professor emeritus with the University of South Florida's Department of Child and Family Studies. Friedman founded an advocacy group to stop abuse in residential facilities and has given congressional testimony on the topic.

"For us not to be able to regulate these programs," he said, "for us not to be able to provide the oversight of these programs that's needed is just shameful.

"We don't know even the scope of the problem, and we allow these youngsters behind these closed doors."

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