Ashley Rhodes – Courter says she knows first hand about the death of a child.
“We saw are kids sent back to these homes they were taken away from, and pray nothing would happen, then it did,” says Rhodes-Courter, a child welfare advocate.
Rhodes-Courter was a foster parent for Jenica Randazzo, who was killed by a family member after being put back into the care of her grandparents.
“Everyone was told things would change and we’d change child welfare in Florida, yet death rate has doubled,” says Rhodes-Courter.
She says since then she’s spoken out about changes needed in the system it’s led to her foster license being taken away.
But with children still losing their lives, like Janiya Thomas and Chance Walsh, she says she won’t stop.
“There are often glaring red flags,” says Rhodes-Courter.
She questions accountability. Documents show in for Janiya Thomas, cases were closed even after risks were intermediate and with physical abuse shown in the report. The sheriff’s office says so far no action has been taken within the child protection unit.
“There’s no accountability and making sure agencies are doing what they are supposed to be doing,” says Rhodes-Courter.
She says it’s times things are changed before another child’s life is lost.
“There should be true transparency about lead agencies where funds are going and supporting programs,” says Rhodes-Courter.
Now we spoke with the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office for comment. They say they are waiting for the critical response report to come back in the Janiya Thomas case—that’s a report that was put in place for the agency to learn what went wrong in situations and what can be done different the next time.