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DCF: Several child protection agencies failed to protect Jordan Belliveau

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Posted at 10:53 AM, Jan 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-16 11:53:24-05

By Sarah Hollenbeck

LARGO, Fla. — A special review of the case of Jordan Belliveau Jr. , the 2-year-old Largo boy who police say was killed by his mother last summer, found that DCF policies were not followed, communication was poor and "several clear warning signs were missed."

Jordan Belliveau’s mother Charisse Stinson is currently in jail accused of killing her son and making up an elaborate story to cover up the crime. According to DCF’s final report on Jordan’s two years of life under child protection, there were numerous issues with how the agencies handles Jordan’s case.

The Florida Department of Children and Families completed the special review on January 11, 2019 and it was released on Wednesday, January 16, 2019.

According to the report, the decision made to reunify Jordan Belliveau with his mother was based on the parent’s “compliance to case plan tasks not behavioral changes.”

Documents revealed an ongoing history of domestic violence between Stinson and her boyfriend Jordan Belliveau Sr. Case workers also had concerns about Belliveau Sr.’s affliation with gang members.

“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,” said Chad Poppell, Secretary of the Department of Children and Families.

DCF states that policies and procedures to ensure Jordan’s safety and wellbeing were not followed and there was a clear lack of communication between PSCO and Directions for Living in communicating the ongoing domestic violence between Jordan’s parents.

Investigators also say there was an absence of ownership between all of the child protection officers who worked on Jordan’s case. Jordan was put in his mother’s custody in May 2018, less than 4 months before she is accused of killing him and leaving his body in a wooded area near the Largo Sports Complex.

The Department of Children and Families Secretary Chad Poppell called the events "incredibly saddening" adding that "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."

DCF also says changes will be coming to make sure this doesn't happen again including: 

  • conducting a comprehensive assessment of the Pinellas County child welfare system to determine if the missed opportunities in this case are prevalent throughout the local system of care;
  • requiring Eckerd to submit a corrective plan to immediately identify and address case management deficiencies and remedy coordination and collaboration issues among all participants of the child welfare system in Pinellas County. The plan must include a review of procedures for cases where a new investigation is opened during an open case management services case, caseload for case managers, court attendance, provider coordination, and successful case closure. Failure to adequately and timely complete corrective action could result in contract termination; and
  • strengthening DCF’s mandated requirements regarding the activities child protective investigators are required to initiate when new abuse reports are received for children who are in care of the child welfare system.

The 17-page report says "there was a noted lack of action taken by case management staff concerning Ms. Stinson's lack of communication and her failure to participate with the reunification program."

Governor Ron DeSantis also released a statement on the findings, saying "The death of Jordan Belliveau is a tragedy. 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.”

State Rep. Chris Latvala of Pinellas County said "Jordan’s story is particularly devastating and I appreciate Governor DeSantis’ leadership to address the breakdowns that led to his death. We must all work together and do anything we can to prevent another tragedy like this from happening.”

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