Florida Department of Children and Families Interim head Mike Carroll says it’s now time to move the agency forward and embrace what he calls the “intense media scrutiny.” A series of media reports highlighting abuse-related deaths has led to several new laws on the books aimed at overhauling the state’s child welfare agency.
Speaking to thousands of child welfare workers at this year’s annual Child Protection Summit in Orlando, DCF Interim Secretary Carroll outlined the new laws that took effect in July, like hiring and training more child protective investigators known as CPIs.
“When we’re done with that, caseloads will be at 10. That will be the average caseload size: 10,” said Carroll to applause. You can’t do this work on the CPI side or case management side of the house with high caseloads. You can’t do it!”
DCF came under scrutiny after a series of investigations by the Miami Herald for a spate of child deaths in the past five years, and lawmakers worked to address that this year.
Carroll is the third DCF Secretary to serve under Governor Rick Scott. David Wilkins, Scott’s first pick, resigned amid questions surrounding DCF’s responsibility for the child deaths.
Carroll says while it’s been rough, DCF should be held to a higher standard.
“I don’t think we should be ducking the criticism. I think we should be embracing it. We share a mission in this room, and it’s to protect kids and help heal families. And, I know and you know, we don’t always and when we don’t get it right, the system ought to be held accountable,” he added.
The three-day summit—which ends Friday—includes a series of workshops aimed at enhancing child professionals’ skills. Wednesday’s workshops included an in-depth look on the new laws.
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