Florida Department of Children and Families

Florida Channel

There are more than 800 foster kids in Florida who have a disability, and Florida Department of Children and Families officials are hoping to help find potential homes for those kids through a campaign launched Wednesday—a bit inspired by a famous disabled Florida dolphin.

Todd Ringeisen is a foster and adoptive parent of kids with special needs, and he made a plea to Florida residents who may be interested in also becoming one.

Six Kids Left In Hot Cars Over Two-Week Span In Florida

Jul 15, 2014
car seat
Karin Beil via Flickr

This year has been fatal for several children left unattended in cars in Florida. The state Department of Children and Families, or DCF, is trying to spread awareness of the issue to prevent more tragedy.

DCF records show seven children have died of heat stroke after being left in cars since 2013. Two of those deaths occurred in June. In the past week and a half, DCF has noted six instances of children's being left alone in vehicles. And though none of those cases was fatal, some children were hospitalized.

http://www.dcf.state.fl.us/childfatality/

The state’s child welfare agency launched a website this week that coincides with a newly signed law that will take effect Tuesday. The rollout of the Florida Department of Children and Families’ new way to track child deaths comes at the same time a scathing grand jury report came out and some are renewing their call to investigate the agency’s integrity.

Child Welfare Reform

MGN Online

Governor Rick Scott has signed the final bill delivered to his desk into law Wednesday aimed at helping children with special needs.

The last bill Scott signed into law requires the appointment of an attorney to represent children with special needs, unless they have pro bono representation.

It can only happen if the child with disabilities meets certain criteria, which includes residing in a nursing facility, is developmentally disabled, or a victim of human trafficking.

There are now three bills awaiting the Governor’s approval, after Governor Rick Scott signed a bill overhauling Florida’s child welfare system.

Sen. Eleanor Sobel (D-Hollywood) was tasked during the 2014 Legislative Session with drawing up a comprehensive child welfare reform bill in the Senate. Multiple investigations by the Miami Herald about child deaths under the Florida Department of Children and Families’ watch in recent years was the impetus.

So, Sobel says she couldn’t be prouder about the bipartisan effort to reform the troubled child welfare system.

Florida Channel

A new law aimed at helping those who would otherwise have aged out of Florida’s foster care system when they turn 18 is going well so far, but may still need some more work. That’s according to the state’s child welfare agency as well as some foster youth who are taking advantage of the programs under the new law.

It’s been barely a year since the “Nancy C. Detert Common Sense and Compassion Independent Living Act” got signed into law. And, it’s only been a few months since the law authored by Detert took effect.

MGN Online

A bill aimed at making sure more kids don’t die from abuse or neglect under the care of the state’s foster care system is now advancing in the House. The latest plan to revamp the Florida Department of Children and Families builds on a recent investigative series by the Miami Herald.

MGN Online

The Florida Senate has now put together several proposals aimed at overhauling Florida’s child welfare agency. The goal is to address the spate of child deaths taking place under the watch of the Florida Department of Children and Families.

The bill makes several changes to DCF. They include creating a criminal offense for abandoning a child, seeking to improve child abuse investigators’ qualifications and making sure most new employees hired after January 1st of next year hold a degree in social work.

Capital Report: 03-11-2014

Mar 11, 2014

The Florida Senate has now put together several proposals aimed at overhauling Florida’s child welfare agency. As Sascha Cordner reports, the goal is to address the spate of child deaths taking place under the watch of the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Lawmakers Pass Package Of Sex Offender Reforms

Feb 12, 2014

Members of the House Appropriations Committee passed five different measures that do everything from requiring more information from sex offender registrants to requiring that victims and local law enforcement be notified when an offender is released from the Department of Children and Families’ care.

Florida Channel

As Florida lawmakers get closer to overhauling the state’s child welfare agency in an effort to avoid more child deaths, some worry proposed changes could harm the Florida Department of Children and Families. Whether new child protective investigators should be required to have a social work degree became a matter of contention during a Senate hearing Tuesday.

Hollywood Democratic Senator Eleanor Sobel says she believes the proposal her committee will soon put forth will be what she calls “landmark legislation” that will protect the state’s most vulnerable youth:

Florida Senate

A Florida lawmaker hopes to prohibit a practice called “private re-homing” during the 2014 session. The move follows a probe that found people who adopted children overseas gave up those same kids through an informal adoption online.

Informal Online Adoption

According to a Reuters investigation, Americans who tired of raising children they adopt overseas sometimes find their way to online groupsthrough Yahoo and Facebookto advertise the child for a second adoption. 

Florida Channel / Florida Channel

An independent review of the Florida Department of Children and Families says the state’s child welfare agency falls short when it comes to its child protective investigative services. The report comes as the state looks to curb a spate of child abuse deaths.

Florida Lobby

Several Florida agencies recently gave Florida lawmakers an update on the rollout of a new law curbing the sale of guns to certain people with mental illnesses. The NRA-backed law went into effect months ago, and state officials are still looking into how to enforce it.

Florida Department of Children and Families

In the next couple of weeks, a service center that helps people apply for benefits in Jefferson County will close its doors. It’s a cost-saving measure by Florida’s child welfare agency.

Florida Department of Children and Families

The new interim head of Florida’s child welfare agency is calling on her staff to refocus in the wake of the recent spate of child deaths associated with the agency. But, some child welfare advocates say there’s more work to do.

State of Florida / Florida Department of Children and Families

The recent spate of child deaths under the Department of Children and Family’s watch has once again raised concerns that the agency isn’t doing enough to protect the kids in its care. We speak with Department of Children and Family’s Secretary David Wilkins about the death of four children within six weeks and what the agency is doing now to protect kids.

Guests: DCF Secretary David Wilkins and Director of Child Protection and Transformation Kelly Sweat Darnell

Florida Department of Children and Families

Florida Department of Children and Families officials say the deaths of four children in six weeks in May and June have led to meaningful changes in the organization.  But the agency’s critics say the fixes don’t go far enough.

The Florida Department of Children and Families is retraining more than 5,000 case workers in an effort to stave off future deaths of children in the agency’s care. But DCF Secretary David Wilkins says there’s no guarantee a child will never die on their watch again:

With summer just around the corner, that’s when many parents send their children to Summer Camp. But, Lauren Book says it’s important that parents arm themselves with information that can keep their kids safe from sexual abuse. Book is a sex abuse survivor, who partnered with the Florida Department of Children and Families to provide tips for parents.

Florida’s new foster care reforms are in the national spotlight, after Congressional leaders held a hearing Thursday to look into different efforts to help those in the foster care system around the nation.

A bill extending the age for those aging out of Florida’s foster care system is now heading to the Governor. The measure aiming to help foster care kids have more of an advantage when they enter into adulthood has now passed the full state Legislature.

“You know, I hear a lot of my peers saying oh, I can’t wait until I turn 18. I tell them yes you can because if you think you’re turning 18 to be grown? No,” said Kierra Perkins.

Growing up in the foster care system wasn’t easy for Kierra, and it was even harder when she had to set out on her own when she turned 18.

Florida lawmakers are hoping to make kids who age out of the foster care system self-sufficient when they go out on their own. A bill that aims to do just that passed with bipartisan support Wednesday in a House budget panel.

Today, there’s about 3,000 young adults aging out of the foster care system, and are in a program called “Road-To-Independence.” That program allows these kids to get financial assistance.

To be eligible, the young adult must be a former foster kid, must be at least 18, and either enrolled in high school or have earned a high school diploma.

Last year, Florida lawmakers put a new law on the books that expands the requirement for reporting child abuse in the state. But, the measure contained a glitch that resulted in double reports in some cases, and one lawmaker is hoping to fix that.

Sascha Cordner / WFSU-FM

The Florida Department of Children and Families is ramping up the state’s abuse hotline. The agency says the horrific death of a ten-year-old girl last year may have been avoided if it had coordinated its information better through the hotline. The child welfare agency says it has a new system that will better serve the state’s most vulnerable citizens.

"Thank you for calling the Florida Abuse Hotline. This is Passion. How can I help you,” asked Passion Ellis, who works for Florida Abuse Hotline.

An initiative is underway to help several families and groups that are struggling this holiday season. State officials are asking Floridians for their support as part of “Operation Santa Cause” Holiday Campaign.

The “Operation Santa Cause”---that's cause, not clause---campaign is an effort by the Florida Department of Children and Families to help those who are in need this holiday season. Department spokeswoman Erin Gillespie:

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