PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - Bryce is a happy two-and-a-half-year-old boy, according to his father Michael Casarez.
“He waves, he blows kisses goodbye, says his prayers, just a very good kid,” Casarez said.
Casarez says he’s worried about his son. Right now, the Department of Children and Families and Delray Beach Police Department are investigating Bryce’s case worker. She is accused of knowingly leaving Bryce in a car unattended for 15 to 20 minutes while on a visit to the child’s mother at a drug treatment facility.
“My child could have been hurt, could have been hot. 20 minutes for any 2-year-old kid, pretty devastating,” Casarez said.
The case worker is contracted out by ChildNet from Children’s Home Society, which directly employs the case worker.
A ChildNet spokesperson released a statement that reads, “As an administrative services organization in Palm Beach County, we subcontract the dependency case management function with a local provider. Our understanding is that the case is currently under investigation so it would be inappropriate for us to comment at this time. We will continue to monitor the situation as protecting abused, abandoned and neglected children in the communities we serve is our first priority.”
Children’s Home Society would also not make a direct comment on the case.
A statement from a spokesperson reads, “Children's Home Society of Florida has been protecting the state’s most vulnerable children since 1902. We take our responsibility extremely seriously. Because this is an open investigation, I cannot comment on details of the allegation.”
Casarez admits he has made mistakes.
“My son was taken from me because I made a mistake back in the past. And you know, he was taken. It was very horrible. And I’m trying to make it right,” he said.
Casarez and his girlfriend lost custody of their son. Casarez was found with drugs while caring for his son about six months ago. He says he had been in trouble before.
“My child’s supposed to be in protective custody, better away from me,” Casarez said.
Florida law says it is illegal to leave a child under the age of six unattended or unsupervised in a car for more than 15 minutes. It is illegal for any length of time if the car is running or if the health of the child is in danger. Read more about the law here .
It is unclear if the car was running or if the air conditioning was on in the vehicle.
The complete investigation could take two months to complete.