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Each day in Florida about 100 kids are involuntarily committed for psychiatric exams under the Baker Act. That adds up to about 36,000 kids a year, and experts say something has to be done. We explore what happens when kids get committed.

Health News Florida Shares In National Award Focused On Florida's Baker Act


The collaborative project highlighted the stories of children sent into confinement by school officials, often without notifying their parents.

WUSF Public Media’s Health News Florida and WFSU News was awarded a 2021 national Edward R. Murrow Award Tuesday for an in-depth news series that focused on the skyrocketing number of Florida children involuntarily committed for psychiatric evaluations.

The award in the small radio news series category focused on The Baker Act, a 50-year-old law not created with kids in mind. The collaborative project highlighted the stories of children sent into confinement by school officials, often without notifying their parents. Each day in Florida, about 100 kids are involuntarily committed. The five-part “Committed” project found children were the fastest-growing group of people subjected to the Baker Act rules, with more than 36,000 children affected each year.

The project, reported on by WFSU Public Media journalist Lynn Hatter and edited by Health News Florida Editor Julio Ochoa, was conceived and produced as a project for the Fund for Journalism on Child Well-Being, a program of the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism’s 2020 National Fellowship.

Health News Florida is the only news publication dedicated to covering health issues in the nation’s third-largest state. Its independent reporting, online and on public radio, emphasizes how issues of cost, quality and health care access affect all Floridians.

Founded in 2006, Health News Florida joined WUSF Public Media in Tampa in September 2012. In October 2014, Health News Florida expanded its coverage by adding reporters and collaborating with public radio stations across the state.

For the past 50 years, the Edward R. Murrow Awards have been granted by the Radio Television Digital News Association for outstanding achievements in broadcast and digital journalism. The Committed project was specifically recognized in the small-market radio category.

Earlier this year, WUSF News was honored with three Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards. The Murrow awards are considered the pinnacle awards in the broadcasting industry. Winners will be honored at the Murrow Awards Gala in New York City in October.

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