DCF Secretary reacts to 8 On Your Side investigation revealing foster kids kept in cars at Wawa parking lot

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – In response to an 8 On Your Side foster care investigation, Florida DCF Secretary Mike Carroll said Wednesday, “I will not tolerate any children in the care of case management organizations spending extended periods of time in cars or offices when they should be in a foster home engaged in therapeutic treatment.”

Our investigation revealed that some of Hillsborough’s most troubled foster teens were warehoused in the parking lot of a Wawa gas station on Waters Avenue in Tampa. We watched the same teens sitting in the cars of caseworkers for hours on end, day after day and night after night.

Tuesday, Eckerd Connects fired Youth and Family Alternatives, the agency Eckerd hired to provide foster care to more than 1700 kids in Hillsborough County, based on poor supervision and YFA’s Wawa warehousing of foster kids that we documented week after week.

“In this case, those working for YFA have a duty to get them into services and not just find them a bed for the night,” Carroll said. “It appears that was not happening and their contract has been terminated as a result of poor case management.”

Eckerd spokesman Doug Tobin said Wednesday that Eckerd first learned of the Wawa situation in November but was told by YFA managers the practice had stopped so Eckerd took no further action.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman believes Eckerd shares some of the blame for what happened.

“At some level, somebody at Eckerd had to be complicit in this whole situation,” Murman said.

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