Department of Children and Families

Stephanie Colombini / WUSF Public Media

There's been a spike in the number of kids being removed from their homes in the Tampa Bay Area over the past few years. And foster care agencies are struggling to keep up with the influx.


Stephanie Colombini / WUSF Public Media

This week on Florida Matters we're talking about the challenges those who work in the foster care system are facing and how it impacts the children they serve.


Increase In Child 'Baker Act' Cases Draws Attention

Jul 21, 2017

With a dramatic increase in the number of children being taken in for involuntary psychiatric examinations, a state panel Thursday began looking to address the “Baker Act” issue.

A new report on how Florida handles young human trafficking victims is receiving mixed reviews.

Advocates are happy about a new law on the books slated to take effect Saturday to help protect kids within Florida’s child welfare system.

The case of a surviving abuse victim that led to the overhaul of Florida’s child welfare system may be close to reaching a resolution. While the claims bill to further compensate the victim has usually died in the past legislative sessions, it’s now headed to the Governor for final approval.

DCF To Move Ahead With Foster-Care Changes After Bill Fails

Mar 16, 2016

A bill aimed at reforming the way Florida foster children are placed in group homes died on the last day of the 2016 legislative session.

Lawmakers Poised To Pass Child Welfare Bills

Mar 3, 2016

After a spate of child deaths in Florida, the Department of Children and Families is doubling down on child welfare reforms. Now state lawmakers are poised to pass a suite of bills to bolster that effort.

Panel Backs Confirmation Of 3 Agency Heads

Dec 6, 2015

A Senate committee Thursday approved the confirmations of three state agency heads who oversee services for vulnerable Floridians.

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

House Panel Looks At Foster Care Options

Nov 19, 2015

With the rate of children coming into Florida's foster-care system slowly increasing, state lawmakers are studying how to improve the options of where the children go to live.

Department of Children and Families

Florida is on pace to have nearly as many child deaths this year as it did before the overhaul of its child welfare system last year. In about a quarter of those deaths, the Florida Department of Children and Families had prior contact with the family. 

The Florida Department of Children and Families is teaming up with the University of Central Florida to get more social workers with a four-year degree working in child welfare.

Settlement Could Offer More Options For People With Mental Illness

Sep 29, 2015

The state Department of Children and Families has agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by Disability Rights Florida and move toward providing more options for people who are mentally ill to live in their communities instead of in state mental hospitals.

Scott Signs Order Tracking Mental Health Services

Sep 10, 2015

As the state Department of Children and Families convened its annual child-protection summit Wednesday, Gov. Rick Scott signed an executive order aimed at better coordinating mental health services --- something DCF Secretary Mike Carroll said will help his agency provide improved care for children.

State Considers Response To 3-Year-Old's Death

May 6, 2015

A report by the state Department of Children and Families on the death of a 3-year-old Hollywood boy is prompting talk among policymakers about the next steps in fixing Florida's troubled child-protection system.

The report --- by what is known as the Critical Incident Rapid Response Team --- details a system-wide breakdown in protecting Ahziya Osceola, whose body was found March 19, hidden in the laundry room of his family's home.

Senators Clash Over Exemptions From Child-Care Licensing

Mar 10, 2015

  A bill that would make clear national groups like the Boys and Girls Clubs are exempt from Florida licensing requirements is stalled in a legislative committee, sparking a clash between two state senators.

Sen. Eleanor Sobel, chairwoman of the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee, began a meeting last week by announcing that the bill (SB 250) by her fellow Broward County Democrat, Chris Smith, would be postponed "because we don't have enough information."

A panel of Florida lawmakers got an update Tuesday on a report, detailing what led to the tragic death of a little girl last month.

In early January, Phoebe Jonchuck’s father allegedly threw her from a bridge during what appears to be a psychotic episode. A detailed report shows the state’s abuse hotline missed two opportunities, warning of Phoebe’s father mental state. And, Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary Mike Carroll says he’s now looking into a number of areas to improve—like tracking the number of screened out calls.

Gov. Rick Scott has made Mike Carroll his permanent secretary of the Department of Children & Families.

Scott on Monday removed the "interim" from Carroll's title. He was initially appointed in April as DCF was struggling with intense media scrutiny over hundreds of child abuse-related deaths.

State child welfare officials are looking into what went wrong in their handling of an investigation of a Florida man who shot himself and his family in North Florida. The Florida Department of Children and Families say they were actually investigating the man weeks before the mass shooting in Bell. So, in the wake of the deadly rampage, could lawmakers be considering another DCF legislative fix?

About a week ago, Don Spirit shot his 28-year-old daughter Sarah and her six kids ranging in age from about three months old baby to 11-years-old.

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