The top item on the website of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities “In the Spotlight” section is an announcement of a recently introduced online customer satisfaction survey. And this week, the agency itself is in the spotlight, not because of its well-meaning survey, but because of a massive deficit that has garnered the ire of Gov. Rick Scott.
On Tuesday, Scott called for Inspector General Melinda Miguel to investigate the agency’s finances, as The Miami Herald reported. In the second quarter of the fiscal year 2010-2011, the agency reported a deficit of $45.1 million, down from $112.6 million in 2008, when it implemented state-enforced policy changes. The agency submitted its most recent financial statement this month.
About three weeks ago, the governor fired director Jim DeBeaugrine, who held the post for two and a half years. Scott then nominated Carl Littlefield, a former Tampa Bay-area administrator of state developmental disabilities services.
But Monday night, Littlefield resigned before a Senate panel could question him about a sex scandal that occurred at the Human Development Center group home in Seffner, which Littlefield was in charge of as a regional director. After a two-year investigation, The St. Petersburg Times broke the story in December that for years the home had been allowing residents to have sex with one another. The Committee on Children, Families, and Elder Affairs was alerted to the home’s practice (and an alleged rape) in 2008, but an official state policy on sex among residents (and whether that falls under abuse) has yet to be enacted.
Depending on what the state’s audit reveals, the agency might be undergoing even more policy changes in the future.
Sofia Resnick reports for The American Independent.