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Polk DCF Worker & Her Husband Charged With Negligent Child Abuse

Bartow, Florida – The Polk County Sheriff’s Office has arrested Tawnya White and Devin White and charged them with negligent child abuse. The interesting twist is the Tawnya White has worked for DCF (Department of Children and Families) for 13 Years.

Here is an excerpt of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office arrest affidavit:

“On 02/09/2024, I was directed by Sgt. Brooks to respond to 8025 Alturas Babson Park Cutoff Rd, Alturas, FL in reference to possible child neglect related to environmental hazards.

On arrival, I was briefed by Deputy Sheriff Dully #9956, he advised he responded to 8025 Alturas Babson Park Cutoff Road, Alturas, at the request of DCF; whom wished to conduct a joint response at the residence regarding health and safety concerns at the residence. D/S Dully advised the outside of the home contained overgrown grass and junk/ debris scattered about the property. The interior of the home was deplorable – to include moldy furniture, stagnant water, junk debris, and piles of dog feces. D/S Dully advised

TWO VICTIMS live at the residence, REDACTED w/m DOB: REDACTED (7 months) and REDACTED w/m DOB: REDACTED (7yoa). It was determined that 5 dogs are also kept at the residence, with 4 of the dogs being kept inside.

Tawnya White

I conducted an interview with Tawnya White in the front yard of the residence. Tawnya advised she has worked for the Department of Children and Families for approximately 13 years. Her husband, Devin White, was previously in a car wreck which limited his mobility and ability to help with cleaning, and she works a full time job. She advised she is trying to clean the house but due to not having help the deplorable conditions continued to progress. She advised VICTIM1 does not leave the master bedroom unless he is being carried outside.

Despite being 7 months old, it was learned the child has not started crawling and appears to possibly be delayed in his development due to being confined in a bassinet all day as the residence is not safe for him to be unconfined.

I conducted an interview with Devin White in the living room of the residence. He advised the conditions of the residence are his fault due to him not being able to get assistance with cleaning. He advised he does not want to ask for help but has difficulty cleaning the residence himself. He stated the children do not play in the residence and are confined to the master bedroom.

Tawnya White signed a consent form for photographs of the interior of the residence. Numerous photographs were taken to document the conditions of the residence. The interior of the residence was in disarray with trash and other items scattered all over the floor, numerous pieces of dog feces was observed in various stages of decomposition, multiple knives were observed laying on the floor, and the smell of dog urine was pungent throughout the residence. Several areas of exposed plywood flooring was observed with visible stains from new and old animal urine and feces. The kitchen counters, to include the sink and stove were cluttered with items blocking those locations. No seating area or table was observed for food consumption, no area for food preparation was observed, and the stove was covered hindering the ability to cook food.

Polk County Fire Rescue responded and conducted an air quality test of the residence. The test resulted with the Ammonia levels to be 20 parts per million.

PCFR advised that OSHA standards for a working environment allow for 25ppm over an 8 hour work day. The VICTIMS were being subjected to a minimum of 20ppm over 24 hour periods. It should also be noted, that the test was conducted in the living room with the front door open. The front door had been open for approximately one hour prior to the test being conducted, allowing fresh air into the residence during that time.

DCE Supervisor Maldonado confirmed Tawnya’s employment status with DCF. I also learned that DCF has been attempting to view the interior of the residence since 1/21/24 after receiving an initial intake report about the conditions in the house.

Tawnya and Devin have been uncooperative with allowing anyone inside the residence, therefore on today’s date DCF obtained a court order to access the inside of the residence. This fact shows that the suspects have also have had 19 days to clean the residence since first contact with DCF and yet the condition of the residence remains unhealthy and unsafe for THE VICTIMS. DCF later advised that Tawnya’s employment was terminated effective today based on the results of this investigation.

Based on this investigation, I established sufficient probable cause to show Tawnya White and Devin White both violated two counts of FSS 827.03(2)(d)Child Neglect, by failing to provide the care and supervision necessary to maintain the children’s physical and mental health. The conditions inside the house show a clear lack of proper food, nutrition, clothing, shelter, and supervision that a prudent person would consider essential for the well-being of the children.

Tawnya White and Devin White were arrested and transported to the Sheriff’s Processing Center without incident.”

author avatar
Carl Fish

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