March 18, 2014
DCF Press Secretary
DCF Kicks Off the ‘Who's Really Watching Your Child?’ Campaign
More than 12,000 incidents of child abuse or neglect last year involved a non-relative caregiver
TALLAHASSEE—The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) kicked off its "Who's Really Watching Your Child?" campaign during a press conference at the Capitol today. The campaign is targeted toward parents and guardians of children ages 0-4 who need child care and may be using a caregiver they know little about.
“We’ve studied the data and know that when young children are placed in the hands of non-relative caregivers, with little or no child care experience and a lack of parental bond with the child, the results can be dangerous,” DCF Interim Secretary Esther Jacobo said. “It’s crucial for parents to designate a responsible adult or licensed child care facility to care for these precious young children, which is why we’ve teamed with organizations and experts throughout the state to launch this campaign.”
An overwhelming number of children are abused or neglected at the hands of non-relative caregivers – boyfriends, girlfriends or friends of the parents may be ill-equipped to care for these young children. The Casey Family Programs report showed using a non-relative caregiver is often unsafe and may lead to child abuse and even child death. More than 25 percent of child protective investigations last year involved a non-relative caregiver as the alleged perpetrator. This represents more than 12,000 incidents of verified abuse or neglect at the hands of a non-relative caregiver in 2013.
“I am proud to stand with so many statewide partners who are dedicated to protecting Florida children and offering help parents need to ensure their children are in safe capable hands when they cannot physically be with them," Representative Gayle Harrell (R- Port St. Lucie) said.
“Florida’s children deserve safe supervision from all caregivers,” State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. John Armstrong said. “The ‘Who’s Really Watching Your Child?’ campaign is a rallying cry for assuring the well-being of young children when a parent or guardian is away from home.”
In partnership with more than 30 statewide agencies and organizations, the campaign builds on successful community programs. Foremost, the goal is to raise public awareness and arm parents with the questions to ask before choosing a caregiver for their children. Additionally, the campaign incorporates:
- Pediatricians engaging parents in conversations regarding their child care situation during routine appointments
- Local parenting programs and a free parenting e-book for caregivers
- Child care resources and opportunities offered through the Early Learning Coalition
- Child protective investigator and case worker training educating front line staff to discuss child care options with parents and guardians
- Child care provider training to educate staff on ways to care for children who may have had traumatic pasts
- Partnership with CareerSource Florida to identify red flags during client appointments and provide resources for clients seeking child care options while they work
- Engaging businesses, community organizations and individuals to consider sponsoring a child care placement through their local Early Learning Coalition
“We work closely with the Department of Children Families when it comes to facilities where young children receive school readiness services,” Executive Director of the Florida Office of Early Learning Shan Goff said. “This campaign reaches beyond facility walls to increase awareness of parenting programs that help bring stability to those young children as they grow.”
Free resources and referrals are available by calling 2-1-1.
"The 'Who's Really Watching Your Child' campaign brings a critical new component to the community services we connect families with every day,” Chairperson of the Florida 2-1-1 Association Catherine Penrod said. “The ability to match families of young children with quality child care environments and parenting programs is vital.”
For more information on the campaign and for additional resources including video PSAs, printed materials and a full list of partners, visit: www.myflfamilies.com/whoswatching.
Video PSAs can be viewed by visiting: www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMOWdn2daAo&feature=youtu.be and