DCF hotline counselor suspended for mistakes in Jonchuck case

February 24th, 2015 by Staff

Phoebe, 5, died when her father threw her off a bridge into Tampa Bay.

(WFTS.COM) TAMPA, Fla. – A Florida Department of Children and Families employee has been suspended for her actions in connection with the shocking death of Phoebe Jonchuck.
The 5-year-old died after her father, John Jonchuck, threw her off a bridge last month, according to law enforcement.
J’Nay Washington was given notice Friday that DCF intends to suspend her for three days in connection with her handling of a call to the DCF Child Abuse Hotline in late December.
“They’re jumping from house to house, have no stable place to live. I fear for her,” said Phoebe’s mother, Michelle
Kerr, in the phone call she made to the hotline Dec. 29.
She reported abuse she said she witnessed in the past by her daughter’s father, John Jonchuck.
“He would pull on her arms like really hard, and he would smack her in the face,” she said.
J’Nay Washington, a four year veteran of DCF, was the counselor who took the call. 
Kerr told her that Jonchuck had been “making threats towards me,” in the hours before she made the call.
“It’s been going on all night,” Kerr said.
According to a discipline report obtained by the ABC Action News I-Team, the call “met the requirements to accept the report for child protective investigation.”
“I’ll go ahead and get this information sent out to the local office,” Washington told Kerr, but she never actually contacted investigators.
She eventually reclassified the report as “Does not rise to the level of reasonable cause to suspect abuse,” telling the investigators who were looking into the DCF issues surrounding Phoebe’s death that she rejected the report because she was unable to verify an address Kerr gave her. She then failed to call Kerr back.
John Jonchuck’s case will return to court Tuesday, where his mental competency is still at issue.
If you have something that you would like the I-Team to investigate, contact us at adam@abcactionnews.com.

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