Press Release

State of Florida
Department of Children and Families
Rick Scott

David E. Wilkins

May 4, 2011
Elisa Cramer - Director of Communications
Circuit 15
(561) 837-5686

DCF joins Safe Kids Coalition of Palm Beach County in awareness campaign.

BOCA RATON, FLA. – Less than one week after community organizations last year launched a "Look Before You Lock" campaign in Palm Beach County, 2-year-old Haile Brockington was left alone in a hot daycare center van. Child protective investigators with the Florida Department of Children and Families’ Palm Beach County Rapid Response Team joined law enforcement, the Medical Examiner’s Office, the State Attorney’s Office, the Health Department of Palm Beach County and other authorities at the scene of her tragic death. Haile was one of 49 children in the United States who died last year from heat stroke while unattended in a vehicle.

Today, DCF, as a member of the Safe Kids Coalition of Palm Beach County, again teamed with local agencies to launch the Never Leave Your Child Alone in a Car education and awareness campaign. At a news conference this morning at Florida Atlantic University’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing, the Safe Kids Coalition of Palm Beach County reminded drivers to double-check their back seats before leaving their cars. “The Department partners year-round with groups throughout the community in an effort to protect children,” said DCF Southeast Regional Director Perry Borman. "This reminder to never leave a child alone in a car is a message for all drivers – parents, grandparents or other relatives, professional bus drivers – anyone behind the wheel."

According to Florida State Statute 316.6135, "No parent, legal guardian, or other person responsible for a child younger than 6 years of age shall leave such child unattended or unsupervised in a motor vehicle for a period in excess of 15 minutes; however, no such person shall leave a child unattended for any period of time if the motor vehicle is running or the health of the child is in danger." While law enforcement officials probe for potential criminal charges, the Department’s child protective investigators review such tragedies to determine whether the death was caused by abuse or neglect and, in cases of surviving children, whether there are safety measures that can be taken to prevent a similar tragedy from occurring again. The Department also offers support to families, including grief counseling.

With support from the Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County and the Safe Kids Coalition of Palm Beach County, DCF’s child protective investigators are distributing brochures in English and Spanish, advising drivers that “Leaving a child in a car for a "quick" errand may be a deadly mistake.” Window shade decals urging drivers to “Look Before You Lock” also have been placed on the Department’s state-owned cars in Palm Beach County, and door hangers have been distributed through investigators and the Department´s administrative office and service centers in Lake Worth and Belle Glade. The brochures offer a checklist for parents and caregivers to help protect children in and around vehicles. The brochures also urge anyone who sees a child alone in a car to call 911.

For more information about DCF, contact Elisa Cramer at (561) 837-5686. For more information about Safe Kids, contact Kelly Powell at (561) 801-1300.