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Amber Alert: DCF is reviewing supervised visitation policies after abduction

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Updated: 12/29/2013 9:12 am
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- After police say 6-year-old Onnika Fisher was abducted by her own mother at the end of a supervised visit, the Department of Children and Families has announced it will review its visitation policies.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is still searching for Onnika, who police say was taken by 38-year-old Charity Chatman.

According to the DCF communications manager John Harrell, there are about 800 supervised visits per month in the Jacksonville area, and what happened Friday is rare.

"In all the years that I've been here, I cannot recall anything that's happened like this, and I've actually now been working with DCF for about nine and a half years," said Harrell.

According to Harrell, previous visits between mother and daughter went as planned, but after their supervised visit wrapped up at the Jewish Family and Community Services center on DuPont Station Court, things went terribly wrong.

"The mother said to the case worker that she had some gifts in the back of the car for the child. They went out to the car," said Harrell.

That's when police say Chatman shoved her daughter into the back seat on the driver's side of her 2000 Buick Century and drove off.

According to Harrell, the case worker was no more than 3 feet away but, he said, she didn't try to stop Chatman because she was in shock and it all happened so fast. He said she immediately ran inside and called 911.

Harrell said after the incident, the DCF will be reviewing its policies.

"We want to take a full look at it to see if there's things that can be done differently. We've spoken with Jewish Family and Community Services extensively," said Harrell.

Ultimately, Harrell believes the case worker shouldn't be blamed.

"It was the mother who decided to do this, who did this quickly, who deceived the case worker," said Harrell.

Given that all other visits had gone smoothly, Harrell said there was nothing in the visitations themselves that would've indicated this could happen.

According to the DCF, it contracts with Family Support Services for foster care services. In turn, Family Support Services assigns cases to different agencies like Jewish Family and Community Services. There are six agencies in the Jacksonville area that the DCF uses for these purposes.
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