The Florida Children & Youth Cabinet met to discuss children’s needs, from mental to dental health. Each agency in the Cabinet laid out their goals for the legislative session.
Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Simone Marstiller said a focus should be on public safety, particularly with young people.
“The first four words in the mission of this agency are to increase public safety," Marstiller said. "So we want to make sure that everything we do from prevention to detention to residential commitment is focused on that, and carrying through what we’re doing in rehabilitation diversion prevention.”
Two suicides at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High are once again raising the issue of mental health in students. Sandra Himmell, the Superintendent of Citrus County Schools, highlighted this concern.
“What we’re looking for is more pressure for ways to mandate parents to go get students help," Himmell said. "We’ve got social workers in the schools, our mental health providers, more psychologists in the schools… Because we cannot mandate them to go. We can suggest, but we cannot mandate.”
Another of the Children's cabinet’s concerns this session is dental hygiene. Barbara Palmer is the Director of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities. She said this issue is especially significant for those with special needs.
“There is a tremendous void out there with dentists that know how to treat people with developmental disabilities. And the cost for cleaning for someone with special needs is hundreds; actually, it gets into the thousands.”
The Children’s Cabinet is backing a bill that would bring an appointed representative from the Florida Dental Association into the cabinet.