Gov. Rick Scott signs new bill for DCF overhaul
The Department of Children and Families has constantly come under fire and now lawmakers and Governor Rick Scott have stepped in to do something about it.
On Monday, the Governor signed a bill unanimously backed by the Florida Legislature.
Hundreds of children have died while under the watch of DCF, and that’s why lawmakers are trying to change that and keep people safe.
Governor Scott hopes this will have a major impact.
Governor Scott said, “As a father and a grandfather, the safety of Florida’s children is a top priority. That’s why this session we succeeded in creating 270 additional child protective investigators, so we can decrease caseloads and provide our servants in the field the support they need to ensure we’re doing everything possible to protect our children. We have to do everything we can to protect our children from abuse and neglect, and these reforms and targeted investments will better enable our child welfare servants to do their job.”
Lawmakers said the old system just didn’t work with lawmakers saying there was no question that it needed to be revamped.
The new law creates a wealth of new measures designed to protect children from abuse and neglect and in the process, it is designed to save lives.
Ronderique Anderson was just 16-months-old when he was beaten to death by his father.
Ezekiel Mathis was just 13 months old when investigators say he was killed by his mother’s live-in boyfriend.
Both boys were under what was supposed to be the watchful eye of DCF.
Their deaths cast yet more of a shadow on the troubled child welfare agency.
A major priority of the overhaul means a reverse in policy in which priority is no longer given to keeping the children with the parents.
Interim DCF Secretary Mike Carroll released a statement that read, “We are eager to start implementing this important bill and the resources provided to put needed boots on the ground to protect children. Governor Scott has been a strong and vocal supporter for the children of this state and these reforms would not have been realized without his leadership and devotion to Florida’s vulnerable children.”
“We relied on parents to give promissory notes instead of to really make sure change was going to be into place,” said Robin Rosenberg, deputy director of Florida Children’s First.
It’s a non-profit that makes sure agencies that serve children do a better job.
“We should not have to read in the newspaper to find out about childrens’ deaths in our community,” said Rosenberg.
Rosenberg said this is a start beginning with transparency.
“Our community needs to know so that we can act appropriately,” she said.
The law adds 270 child protective investigators to decrease caseloads and give workers support in the field.
It makes a push to keep siblings together.
It also gives funding for people who aren’t licensed foster-parents to take kids into their homes.
“It’s a great start,” said Rosenberg, “There are a number of really terrific things that are in the bill, things that are really good for children and family. But there’s a long way to go.”
The law also creates a new Assistant Secretary for DCF.
It also creates a critical incident response team which means speedier investigations into the deaths of children in families who are already to the agency.
The law goes into effect on July 1st.
These changes were brought on, in part, by a newspaper’s investigation into the agency.
By Paul Mueller, Reporter