Governor’s Budget Recommendations Protect and Strengthen Florida’s Vulnerable Children and Families

For Immediate Release: Jan. 28, 2015

Governor’s Budget Recommendations Protect and Strengthen Florida’s Vulnerable Children and Families
Funding supports child welfare, substance abuse and mental health services and prevention initiatives

TALLAHASSEE—Governor Rick Scott today recommended nearly $80 million for new projects at the Department of Children and Families (DCF) with a focus on the agency’s number-one priority—improving child safety and eliminating preventable child fatalities.

“As a father and grandfather, it is critical that every Florida child have the opportunity to grow and thrive in a safe, nurturing environment. Protecting our children is a top priority to me and that is why we will continue to make investments to strengthen Florida’s most vulnerable.”

“Governor Scott has provided DCF with unwavering support and these budget recommendations further demonstrate his commitment to improving the lives of vulnerable Floridians,” DCF Secretary Mike Carroll said. “With these additional resources we will have more tools available to support struggling families so they can recover and thrive.”

Governor Scott’s Recommended Budget includes a plan to transition community mental health and substance abuse services to an improved service delivery model to maximize capacity for, responsiveness to, and coordination of the behavioral health needs of individuals served by the department. This new model will provide the framework for state and local communities to more effectively plan for and address the behavioral health needs of their populations. By improving behavioral health services across the state, this new model will also help to improve child welfare, child protection, and public safety in general.

Governor Scott’s recommended DCF investments for the 2015-2016 Fiscal Year also would specifically fund:

$24.6 Million for Improving Case Practice to Best Protect Children in the State’s Care

  • $1.3 million for additional Children’s Legal Services attorneys to support investigative decision-making and take appropriate actions in cases involving domestic violence.

“Family violence threatens child is consistently one of the top calls to the Florida Abuse Hotline, with additional attorneys DCF will be able to seek more injunctions that protect both the child and domestic violence survivor from a violent perpetrator,” Tiffany Carr, President/CEO of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said.

  • $15.7 million for new funding for Community-Based Care (CBC) lead agencies based on the number of children served, with incentives based on positive outcomes for children.

“Investing in the case management workforce will help to ensure that CBCs can be efficient and effective in serving children in our communities and partner with DCF to improve lives throughout the state,” Shawn Salamida, Vice Chair of the Florida Coalition for Children (FCC) and CEO of FamiliesFirst Network, said.

  • $7.6 million for investments in investigation and case management technology to ensure a stable and responsive information system that supports the delivery of the right services to at-risk children and families.

“A robust communication and case management system is key to our practice in Florida’s privatized child welfare model,” Shelley Katz, chair of the FCC and Chief Operating Officer of Children’s Home Society of Florida, said.

$14 Million for Recruiting, Training and Retaining a High-Quality Workforce

  • Funds to conduct a statewide training needs assessment to ensure all child welfare staff have the training necessary to effectively identify risk and develop intervention strategies to protect vulnerable children.

“Governor Scott has shown extraordinary support for the staff who are charged with keeping children safe,” Patricia Babcock, Interim Director, Florida Institute of Child Welfare, said. “By funding efforts focused on a high quality, well-trained workforce he has shown that he understands the complexity of the issues facing those on the frontline.”

 $40.9 Million for More Effective Intervention Strategies

  • $4.9 million to support the expansion of the Healthy Families program to serve an additional 1,229 at-risk families and an estimated 2,175 children. Healthy Families is an evidence-based prevention strategy that has been proven effective in reducing child maltreatment and re-abuse.

“Governor Scott’s proposed investment is a reflection of his belief that child abuse can and should be prevented before it ever begins,” Jennifer Ohlsen, Executive Director of Healthy Families Florida, said. “Healthy Families Florida is proven to prevent child abuse and that means fewer children suffering the horrors of abuse, fewer children entering foster care, and more children growing up safely in loving, nurturing homes.”

  • $7.8 million to fully fund Maintenance Adoption Subsidies which support parents who adopt children from Florida’s foster care system.
  • $22.4 million to invest in care management and coordination for substance abuse and mental health services to provide immediate access to behavioral services for parents of children in the child welfare system and community based multi-disciplinary intervention teams delivering family services.

 “Through this investment we will be able to ensure that those struggling with substance abuse and the often underlying mental health issues get the treatment they need and that we have robust mechanisms to track their progress and the strength and value of the services offered in communities,” Mark Fontaine, Executive Director of the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association, said.

  • $4.5 million for continuing funding for Community Action Teams, which have been proven to be an effective strategy for serving children with complex mental health needs in the community.
  • $1.1 million in additional capacity to serve forensic mental health residents.

“For families struggling with mental illness, knowing that their loved one is receiving care that will assist in their recovery is so important,” Mike Hansen, President of the Florida Council for Community Mental Health, said. “Governor Scott’s support for these families shows his commitment to helping Floridians struggling with mental illness.”

To view the complete budget recommendations from Governor Scott, please go to www.keepfloridaworking.com. For more information on the Florida Department of Children and Families, visit www.MyFLFamilies.com.

Contact: Michelle Glady, Press Secretary, (850) 717-4450

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