Despite staffing shortages, state plans takeover of county child services


ORLANDO, Fla. – In the last 2 decades, seven of Florida’s 67 counties have handled their own investigations into child abuse and neglect, which is about to come to an end.

The Department of Children and Families will soon take over for Broward, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Seminole, and Walton Counties, despite the fact that DCF is facing staffing shortages.

In a February letter from DCF, the state agency notified the sheriffs of these seven counties that it would be transitioning their services to the state.

“I don’t think right upfront anyone’s going to notice a difference,” says Robin Rosenberg, the Deputy Director of Florida’s Children First. “I do think that DCF is moving in a direction to be more supportive of families so that fewer children have to be removed and that they are they’ve created a program where they have family navigators that can work alongside the investigators to help those families get the services they need before things come to a crisis point.”

In a statement, the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office said it supports the transition, writing, “It simply makes sense considering the transient society Florida has shifted into over the years. This will help to ensure that services provided and received across the state are consistent.”

But the move comes as DCF is experiencing significant staffing shortages tied in no small part to low pay for case managers and investigators. The turnover rate for investigators is 71%.

In his 2023-24 budget request, Governor Ron DeSantis wrote, “The Department is experiencing unacceptably high vacancy rates, which is especially evident within the critical classes who provide direct services to Florida’s most vulnerable citizens.”

DCF insists it will work with the legislature to formulate a plan to ensure a smooth transition so that no cases fall through the cracks.


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Alexia Nechayev

FYS Events & Meeting Chair
(Palm Beach)

Hello, My name is Alexia Nechayev. I am 25 years old and I am an alumna of Florida International University where I received my B.A. in Psychology. My future career goal is to be a Lawyer. I was in care for about one year from age 17 to 18. Prior to entering care, I only knew about the negative stigma regarding foster care and while in care that narrative was unfortunately my experience.

In school I felt like I was on display because my status in care was broadcast to other students and in my placement behavior was leveraged for “privileges” that should be a natural right of all children. Because I did not know my rights I did not know that what I was experiencing was wrong. Today this is exactly why I advocate, because I don’t want this to be the same for other youth who are experiencing foster care.

This is my second year on the FYS Statewide Board and I’m happy to be the Events and Meetings Chair this year because my main goal through advocacy is to reach as many people as possible. My favorite thing as a board member is to see how comfortable members become while working together. The community needs to know that youth in foster care are real people, going through some of the hardest moments of their life and youth need to know that their voice is powerful. I believe that we have to speak up and bring these issues to people’s attention so that they do not forget us. Advocacy, education and consistency is the only way.

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