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DCF: Relief coming for overworked investigators

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Updated: 1/15 9:15 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- When children are victims of alleged abuse, or abduction and murder, it's difficult to forget their faces.

The Department of Children and Families sees a number of these cases, including the most recent. Onnika Fisher was abducted but was faced with a unique situation DCF said likely could not have been prevented.

"This is the first time it's ever happened in this region and I'm getting with my CEOs and community-based care tomorrow in fact, and this is one of those things to see if we can learn from it," said DCF's regional director, David Abramowitz.

Onnika's own mom is accused of snatching the 6-year-old after a supervised visit in Jacksonville. The DCF believes additional services, like mental health counseling for Onnika's mother, could have helped in that case.

"There is more to the job than figuring out if the child is safe. There's also figuring out what services you need," said Abramowitz.

Right now, DCF says its investigators are juggling 12 cases at a time. Just this week, the governor proposed a $31 million funding increase for mental health services and the hiring of additional investigators to create smaller case loads.

It's welcome news to a local day care director, who tells Action News she works with abused children every day and sees a real need for it.

"It's a great idea to put more time and effort to do that, and more investigators outside to see what's going on," said Karen Sanchez.
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