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Nearly Two Years On The Job, DCF Head Talks Tenure During Initial Confirmation Hearing

Florida Channel

The head of Florida’s child welfare system gained unanimous approval during his initial Senate confirmation hearing Thursday.

Speaking to members of the Senate Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Subcommittee Thursday, Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary Mike Carroll joked about his tenure so far. He’s Governor Rick Scott’s third appointment to the position.

“I’ve had a relatively short tenure. I’ll tell you an interesting anecdote. I’ve been the Secretary 20 months now, not yet confirmed. The average tenure is about 18 months. So, I’m feeling like I’m doing pretty good,” joked Carroll, to laughter. “You know?”

But, on a more serious note, Carroll spoke about his achievements as well as areas for improvement. Among the positives, he says, is further implementation of a new child welfare reform law.

Carroll’s agency has been under scrutiny for a spate of child deaths that have occurred under their supervision. And, he says that’s something he’s really trying to change.

“Can’t be more proud of the folks that worked for this department and the folks that we partnered with,” he added. “So, while I may not commit to you that we’ll prevent every tragedy, I will commit to you once again that we will continue to work with this committee, staff on this committee, our partners on the ground to work with us every day to keep people safe to make sure that we get better and we get it right more times than we get it wrong. And I think that we can do that. I sure would like to end child deaths where I then I have to go back and explain opportunities that we missed to keep kids safe.”

Sen. Nancy Detert (R-Venice) thinks Carroll is doing a good job so far.

“I mean, Secretary Carroll, if I had your job, I probably not be able to sleep nights, knowing what you know and what you have to deal with, and when you’re making a decision that could be the death of a baby or the life of a baby, it’s very difficult to sleep,” she said.

Child advocate Jack Levine, founder of 4Generations Institute, was among those who had more good things to say about Carroll.

“This has been the 14th [DCF]Secretary whom I’ve had opportunity to work with, and he has shown a diversity of Community Based Organizations—some of which are represented here in this very room—that working together is a way to really make progress, and I credit him for that,” he said. “Second of all, as we perfect our postmortems, he has really shown that prevention is the key.”

In addition to Carroll, the panel also unanimously confirmed Agency For Persons with Disabilities Director Barbara Palmer and Florida Department of Elder Affairs Secretary Sam Verghese.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.