Child Welfare Agency Reforms Pledged At Town Hall Meeting - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Child Welfare Agency Reforms Pledged At Town Hall Meeting

MIAMI (AP) - The Florida Department of Children & Families will soon require any agency caseworker removing a child from a home to be accompanied by a law enforcement officer.

Charles Auslander, district administrator of the agency, announced the new measure Monday at a town hall meeting that included a panel of child advocates, community leaders and the Rev. Al Sharpton speaking about the mishandling of the Rilya Wilson case.

Rilya, 5, apparently vanished under state supervision in January 2001, and the department did not realize she had disappeared for at least 15 months. Rilya's birth mother, who lives in East Cleveland, continues to wait for any information on the whereabouts of her daughter.

Auslander said having a law enforcement officer would be a safeguard against anyone posing as a caseworker, such as was alleged by Rilya Wilson's caretaker, Geralyn Graham.

Sharpton called Rilya's long undetected disappearance a "national outrage."

"Who at the top wasn't looking? Someone needs to answer to that under the oath of a courthouse," he said.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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