Seven years ago, when the Florida child welfare system was at its worst, we began a report on that system by comparing two leaders of large child welfare agencies. Both once had been prosecutors. Both started out believing that the answer to every child welfare problem could be boiled down to "take the child and run." But in New York City, Nicholas Scoppetta had been persuaded by a panel of national experts to reverse course. The agency he ran at the time, New York's Administration for Children's Services, had begun to rebuild by emphasizing family preservation. We urged his counterpart in Florida, Kathleen Kearney to do the same.
Kearney and Scoppetta are long gone. And today, the rate at which children are taken from their parents in Miami is far lower than the rate in New York City.