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Pasco’s $1 Million for Child Abuse Investigations is ‘Turkey,' Watchdog Group Says

Florida Tax Watch is recommending that Gov. Rick Scott veto the funding increase.

When Florida TaxWatch released its “2012 Turkey Watch” report, Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco was surprised to see funding for one of his programs listed on the gobbler list.

TaxWatch has deemed the the sheriff’s office would receive for its Child Protective Investigations Unit as one of its 159 “turkeys” identified this year. In March, the state legislature announced plans to increase the unit’s funding from $4.6 million to $5.6 million.

Investigators with the child protective unit are civilians that investigate child abuse and neglect cases with sheriff's office supervision. The unit is funded by a state grant and does not rely on county taxpayer dollars.

"It is extremely disappointing that any private group would consider a project a turkey that provides us increased resources to protect our children in Pasco against the prescription pill epidemic," Nocco said in a media release. "Before Florida TaxWatch makes such statements, I would ask that they come to Pasco and see for themselves the heartbreaking situations our deputies and child protection investigators deal with every day.”

Pasco’s CPI unit has not had an increase in funding in three years, despite an increase in caseload, Nocco said.

What do you think about the increase? Is it a “turkey” or a necessary expense? Let us know in the comments section.

“This has resulted in not only a lower per capita investigative cost per case, but also in lower salaries for Pasco CPIs compared to their counterparts in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties,” Nocco said. “Pasco County has also had the dubious distinction of having the most newborn babies born addicted to prescription pills in the entire state.”

Florida TaxWatch is a private, nonprofit group that researches how taxpayer dollars are being spent, according to its website. “Our mission is to provide the citizens of Florida with high quality, independent research and education on government revenues, expenditures, taxation, public policies and programs and to increase the productivity and accountability of Florida Government.”

The Turkey Watch list “spotlights legislative projects placed in the budget without the proper opportunity for public review and debate, which circumvent lawfully established procedures, or which noncompetitively benefit a very limited special interest or local area of the state,” the report said.

The 2012 report targets 159 appropriations, which Florida TaxWatch says is the largest number since 2007. The projects are worth $170.9 million.

The projects included are not judged on their merit, the report states. Instead, “the 'budget turkey' label does not condemn a project’s worthiness, but instead focuses on the budget process, including instances where the Legislature has not followed its own policies and procedures to ensure the highest standards of accountability and government efficiency,” according to the report.

What do you think?

Diamond April 13, 2012 at 08:04 PM
They cut the court clerk's office by $900,000.00 so this is how they are getting it back under the disguise of child protection.
Diamond April 13, 2012 at 08:45 PM
and for the record I don't believe any money spent to save our kids is wasted as long as it is used to help them. I know that when jobs are created the money disappears and the kids still left holding the bag...empty.
Sherri Lonon April 13, 2012 at 09:19 PM
Thanks for the comments, Diamond! Anyone else have an opinion on this?
Tiffany April 14, 2012 at 12:36 AM
My step-daughter came back from her mother's house with bruises all over her and I called in an abuse report. The CPI Unit didn't have enough people to go out there that day and by the time they arrived the bruises had healed, hence, they found no evidence of abuse. I say give them the money so they can hire more people to watch over our kids!!
Jeff Cannon April 14, 2012 at 02:24 AM
I think the horror stories that these CPI agents experience should be shared with the public before such statements are made by Florida TaxWatch. This is an agency that is overworked and under staffed because the need in our community for their services is so great. The average CPI agent's work load is so great that many spend countless hours of their own time to ensure our children are protected, not to mention the phone calls at all hours of the day and night. The issue isn't whether or not additional funding should be provided, it's a matter that it NEEDS to be provided!
Sherri Lonon April 14, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Thanks for the comments everyone. Anyone else have an opinion on this? Would you tell Gov. Scott to use the line item veto?
greg April 15, 2012 at 12:27 AM
I am a middle school teacher, and with the current salary and job structure, I thought I would look at CPI as a career switch. Once I saw the salary, I'll pass! I mean, I have a lot of experience and not just as a teacher, but you get what you pay for. You do not take a backswing in salary and an increase in hours. They have got to be way overworked and way underpaid.
Pat Grady April 15, 2012 at 01:26 AM
I have 2 daughters that work in agencies that protect children. My girls and the others that work in those agencies are angels. They do so much with so little and are always asked to do more. There are so many children out there that need help. My girls come home in tears sometimes because of their cases. If that money can hire some more people to help with the work load and protect the innocent children then why would anyone consider it a TURKEY!?
pillou812 April 15, 2012 at 07:05 PM
they need to fire susan braswell shes a horriable liar!!!!!!!!!!!! they spent alot of tax payer dollars taking my sisters kids and giving them to a non family member who is now abusing the kids they were never abused by my sister or her husband susan braswell just makes it up as she goes she needs to be fired
Lori April 19, 2012 at 02:49 PM
I could write a book, not about CPI staff at the sheriffs dept, but the agency they work with Eckerd Community Alternatives. There are some there that don't deserve a job and try going to a supervisor, it is a joke! There were 7 different caseworkers on my daughters case and they give the kids to her ex husband who was charged with lewd and lacivious charges. Were supposed to have a court date regarding it, never happened.That entire group at Eckerd should be looked at, they are the ones getting our tax dollars and not protecting All our kids.
pillou812 April 20, 2012 at 04:32 PM
amen it is a joke they gave my sister kids to someone that can not decide if she wants to be with men or woman she also has domestic violence injunctions against her she is also not a family member this girl didnt even raise her own children now she telling eveyrone that they are her kids they where told that i could not have them because of a pettie theft from fours years ago the case workers, judge, cpi dont want to hear anything you have to say either because they are RIGHT
sueb June 28, 2012 at 04:23 PM
"Before Florida TaxWatch makes such statements, I would ask that they come to Pasco and see for themselves the heartbreaking situations our deputies and child protection investigators deal with every day.” I would revise this to include rick scott and his cronies to come see for themselves as well. I charge them to have the fortitude to come to Pasco and experience for a month or two - not a token "I have seen for myself, aren't I grand" 45 minute visit. They have no idea what conditions our kids live in, and what school is like for them or what school means for many of them as a safe haven. I too am a middle school teacher in Pasco. Why is it that everyone directly connected to our kids is over worked, has taken pay cuts, (let alone gotten a COL increase in 4+ years), been demeaned as "do gooders" and slackers, and nothing but a financial burden? The agencies referred to by the two above clients involved with those kinds of agencies are especially indicative of why the agencies we have for children are in such dire straits. We are the only people on a day to day basis for years that save the blind-eyed from having to look at the realities of poverty. Rick Scot, et.al., and TaxWatch - walk a mile in a child's shoes in Pasco County before you open your uninformed mouths or make decisions about which you know nothing.
pillou812 June 29, 2012 at 08:43 PM
as i said in my comments before cpi is a big joke here my sister kids that were removed from there home were put into a abusive home they were just removed from the abusive home after months of complaints about the abuse perhaps they should send these cpi agents back to investigation school and not to take hear say to heart
S.P. August 23, 2012 at 04:06 AM
Unfortunately my X's family and ex wife have had dcf involved with them many times and the past 2 years with my ex doing roxies while pregnant with my daughter, they did not put many restrictions on my ex after my daughter was born who had to be in Nicu for 4 weeks I might add, then continued to do pills after baby was born, I kicked her out, she then was watching the baby for one day, she dropped my daughter she hit the concrete (saying she tripped) fractured my daughters skull at 6 months old, was hospitalized, dcf was called again, and with my ex's past history of abusing pills dcf did not piss test her or put much of any effort into the investigation. 6 months later she is with her pill head boyfriend, gets pregnant, has to get on methadone, loses the baby at 5 months pregnant from probably doing pills, dcf didnt do anything or order an autopsy on the baby.... and a couple times after that even current dcf gets called on her for doing/selling pills with her 11 yr old daughter present and they still haven't done nothing or ordered her to get help or take the child away. I have the baby and have had the baby for over a year and will not let my ex near my baby... DCF IN PASCO COUNTY IS A EFFIN JOKE THEY WASTE MORE TIME AND MONEY NOT INVESTIGATING IN A CORRECT MANOR Especially with mothers who have a repetitive pill using history, miscarrying and putting her kids in danger... dont believe all this press talk crap or whatever cause the investigators are a joke!!!!
Frank Balogh September 10, 2012 at 02:29 AM
Please contact me, looking to start a class action against the county. Frank Balogh 727-845-7633, you have to go after the money that's what will hurt and send they the message
Frank Balogh September 10, 2012 at 03:11 AM
We have had our 2 children removed 3-19-12 for "probable cause" after 160 days and $15000  (out of pocket defense) our kids have been returned.  No adjudication no - abuse - neglect - or abandonment found.   In Noccos comment above " the investigators of child services are "civilians" that investigate abuse/neglect of children, is true. This is we're it all starts, an option of an ordinary person. What training do they have to make a life altering discussion on any reported - abuse - neglect - or others. This is where the funding should be spent...educate those who are telling the courts there opinion.  I'm sure if child services really used their common sense / education ...their work load would not be so over loaded.  Child services,  just because theres money to spend.. You should spend it wisely! 
pillou812 September 10, 2012 at 10:03 PM
Well said Frank! The whole department needs to overhauled even the supervisors I have given my sister your number these people need to be stopped. Her children were removed because of one persons opinion not because of facts they were placed into a abusive home the state is still not going to press charges against the real abusers. She needs to be held accountable for her actions her and her girlfriend manipulated cpi to get the kids then they abused them. So if you want to see a real sicko stop by wal-mart on ridge and 19 go to the automotive dept ask for Mandy thats her a piece of trash!
karin l April 29, 2013 at 02:26 AM
The pasco county CPI is a total waste of money. The CPI's do not know how to conduct investigations related to these crimes against children precisely BECAUSE they are civillians! These are CRIMES and just like any and every other crime, crimes aginst children should properly be investigted by a sheriff deputy or detective not some random civillian. The funding should go to the sheriff dept to be used by actual law enforcement personnel to conduct investigagtins related to all crimes aginst children.

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