TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) - The head of the state's Department of Children and Families appeared before a Senate panel Thursday to talk about the death of a three year old Hollywood boy last month.
DCF Secretary Mike Carroll told the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee that he sent a special investigative team --- known as a Critical Incident Rapid Response Team --- to South Florida to find out why social-service agencies missed a series of internal and external injuries to Ahziya Osceola.
The child's body was found on March 19, wrapped in garbage bags and hidden in the laundry room of his family's home.
"There were signs that this child may have been physically abused," Carroll said. "It wasn't clear who or to what extent, and with all of the parties we just didn't close the loop and get to a place where we were able to determine what really is the nature of these bruises and who really is the perpetrator in this."
Sen. Eleanor Sobel, a Hollywood Democrat who chairs the committee, said Ahziya was "beaten to death."
Sobel said she wants to review the state's child-welfare arrangements with the Seminole Tribe, to which the boy and his family belonged and which had been handling his case after ChildNet, the community-based care organization in the region, terminated services to the family in September 2014.
"We need much more specific guidelines around information sharing," Carroll said. "And while I appreciate the need to respect the sovereignty of the Indian nation in these cases, the best interests, well-being and safety of the children should be the foremost concern of both parties involved in this."
Neither the Seminole Tribe nor the Broward Sheriff's Office, which had investigated the family four times without taking action, appeared at the committee hearing. Carroll told lawmakers the special investigative report will be complete within weeks.
The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.
for more features.