Governor Scott’s Florida First Budget Aims to Make Florida First in Child Protection and Mental Health Services Coordination

For Immediate Release:
November 23, 2015

 Governor Scott’s Florida First Budget Aims to Make Florida First in Child Protection and Mental Health Services Coordination

TALLAHASSEE — Governor Rick Scott’s proposed Florida First budget increases funding to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) by $107 million to improve child safety, eliminate preventable child fatalities, and coordinate the state’s substance abuse and mental health services. DCF’s total funding in the Florida First budget is $3 billion. This funding will also support the efforts outlined in Executive Order 15-175 that Governor Scott issued this September to better coordinate mental healthcare services across Florida.

Governor Scott said, “As a father and a grandfather, protecting Florida’s children is a serious priority. We must constantly ask ourselves what we can do to make sure every child is safe, and our investments at DCF will provide the necessary tools to help meet that goal. It is also clear that we must change Florida’s fragmented mental healthcare system, and we must do more to offer care to individuals in their own communities instead of state institutions. Florida has taken great strides in protecting our vulnerable populations, and I look forward to continuing to work with DCF to provide a stronger safety net for all of our children and families.”

DCF Secretary Mike Carroll said, “We are working hard every day to make Florida the safest state in the nation for all vulnerable populations, especially children and those with behavioral health issues. The Governor’s recommended budget will improve DCF’s capacity to make a difference in the lives of struggling Floridians by ensuring they receive the right amount and types of services they need to pursue safe, healthy and independent lives.”

The Florida First budget includes:

  • $22.9 Million for Children’s Safety in the Child Welfare System, including:
    • $14.8 million for an additional 272 case management workers through community-based care lead agencies (CBCs) to reduce caseloads and enhance case managers’ ability to focus on the safety and well-being of Florida’s children.
    • $8 million to increase the availability of safety services for families whose children are at risk of being removed from their homes.
  • $19 Million for Behavioral Health Services Coordination, including:
    • $12.8 million for Community Behavioral Health Services to support individuals with mental health needs in their communities and help transition individuals residing in institutions back into their own communities.
    • $3.7 million for five additional Community Action Treatment (CAT) teams to provide comprehensive treatment to youth with significant behavioral health needs and their families to avoid costly out-of-home placement.
    • $2.8 million for Family Intensive Treatment (FIT) teams in six additional counties that have high numbers of verified abuse and neglect reports related to substance abuse. FIT teams provide intensive, team-based, family-focused services to families in the child welfare system with parental substance abuse.
  • Additional budget highlights include:
    • $3.1 million for safety and technology enhancements within the state mental health treatment facilities.
    • $1.9 million to enhance the Healthy Families program so higher level services, such as in-home therapeutic counseling, can be provided to families most at risk.
    • $1.7 million to expand services to adolescent victims of human trafficking.

Shawn Salamida, Vice Chair of the Florida Coalition for Children (FCC) and CEO of FamiliesFirst Network, said, “Governor Scott’s strong support will put more case managers in the field and into the homes of families in need across the state. Providing resources to better match services with families' needs is crucial to the success and stability of those we serve.”

Mike Hansen, President of the Florida Council for Community Mental Health, said, “We are excited about the Governor and Secretary Carroll’s commitment to mental health treatment to provide the highest level of service to those with behavioral health needs. The Florida First budget supports the mental health community so individuals have the right services in their own communities to get the help they need.”

Mark Fontaine, Executive Director of the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association, said, “Substance abuse affects families across the state.  Children are better served and their safety is protected when parents receive the treatment and support they need. Governor Scott’s budget provides additional FIT teams to address the need for comprehensive substance abuse treatment for Florida families.”

Patricia Babcock, Interim Director, Florida Institute of Child Welfare, said, “I thank Governor Scott for his support of additional caseworkers. By reducing caseloads, caseworkers can have more time to dedicate to the families they work with and make meaningful strides in their work to serve children and rebuild families.”

Jennifer Ohlsen, Executive Director of Healthy Families Florida, said, "Governor Scott recognizes that Florida is home to a growing number of families facing extraordinary challenges to providing the safe and stimulating environments children need for healthy growth and development. The additional funding he's proposed for Healthy Families Florida will provide more high-risk families with access to the support and coaching services they want and need to learn positive parenting practices. This program is a critical first line of defense against child abuse and neglect and is also proven to improve maternal and child health and increase family self-sufficiency."

To view the complete budget recommendations from Governor Scott, please go to

For more information on the Florida Department of Children and Families, visit

Contact: Michelle Glady, DCF Press Secretary, 850-717-4450