This week, Governor Rick Scott proposed nearly $80 million of the budget go to the Department of Children and Families, with a focus on the agency’s number one priority—improving child safety and eliminating preventable child deaths.
“We’re going to look at what we can do to improve our practice," said Michelle Glady, a spokesperson for DCF. "One tragedy is representative of a little person’s life. Our number one goal is eliminating these child deaths from happening again.”
Nearly $22.4 million is earmarked for substance abuse and mental health services.
“For families struggling with mental illness, knowing that their loved one is receiving care that will assist in their recovery is so important,” said Mike Hansen, President of the Florida Council for Community Mental Health.
A total of $24.6 million will go toward improving case practice to protect children in the states care. That includes the Florida Abuse Hotline and additional attorneys for DCF to be able to seek injunctions against domestic abusers.
While $14 million is allotted for recruiting, training and retaining a high-quality workforce.
“Boots on the ground are critical,” said Kathleen Cowan, the Executive Director of Eckerd Community Alternatives, an agency that does casework for DCF. “The best service we can provide are when caseworkers are with those children more often."
Nearly $41 million is dedicated to more effective intervention strategies including providing support for adoptive and foster families.