Ron DeSantis signs ‘A Year is a Long Time in the Life of a Child Act’
Seems that some of Ron DeSantis' goodwill is rubbing off on the Republican-led Legislature.

ron DeSantis 6.27.19
The law is designed to reduce the amount of time abused and neglected children spend in foster care.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday signed into law the “A Year is a Long Time in the Life of a Child Act,” a measure designed to reduce the amount of time abused and neglected children spend in foster care.

A top priority of the Florida Guardian ad Litem Program, which represents these children in dependency court proceedings, the measure also garnered strong backing from the Legislature. It passed both chambers unanimously after passionate speeches by sponsors Sen. Ben Albritton of Wauchula and Rep. Spencer Roach of North Fort Myers in their respective chambers.

SB 262 and HB 421 aim to improve communication and accountability in the dependency process so that maltreated children can reach safe, permanent homes within one year. That could mean reunification with the parents, adoption or placement with a permanent guardian, such as a relative.

The measure requires parents whose children have been placed in the dependency system to be referred for services within seven days. They must keep their contact information current and notify the court of any barriers to completing their case plans. The Department of Children and Families must anticipate barriers and give parents strategies to overcome them, and also must make sure parents get updated contact information if the caseworker on the child’s case changes.

To illustrate the need, Roach — one of Guardian ad Litem’s 10,000-plus volunteers — told House members he’d recently heard of a young boy in his district whose first month in the foster system was spent in a different home each night.

“I’d like you to think about that — a four-year-old child, 30 days, 30 different homes,” he said. “Can you imagine the trauma to that little boy? That is unacceptable and no child should have to endure that.”

Albritton, telling his fellow senators they were “in the presence of greatness,” introduced 5-year-old Carli Smith, who was in the gallery with the adoptive parents who had fostered her. It had taken three years, Albritton said, going back and forth between her foster family and her biological parents, before “it was recognized that the parents weren’t going to get to the place where they could provide the kind of home that precious little angel needed.”

“That kind of instability over a long period of time is deeply harmful to children,” said Guardian ad Litem Executive Director Alan Abramowitz. “That is why this bill was so needed.”

Gov. DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis had previously signaled their concern about child protection, with the Governor appointing the First Lady to chair the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet, and both participating in Children’s Week activities during the 2019 legislative session.

Roach told his fellow lawmakers 24,000 children are languishing in Florida’s foster care system.

“With your vote today,” he said, “I’d like you to indicate to these 24,000 children that they’ve been heard and help is on the way.”

They did. “A Year is a Long Time in the Life of a Child” passed every committee and floor vote unanimously.

To learn more about the Guardian ad Litem Program or to become a volunteer, visit GuardianAdLitem.org or call 1-866-341-1425.

Guest Author


6 comments

  • MZZZ INFOOOOOOOO

    June 28, 2019 at 4:35 pm

    no other country in the world can legally remove children from their homes like the US does.

    dcf are legal child traffickers. its barbaric

    If you ask me, the root cause of this issue is not the parents. It’s the government. What a sad state of legislation. Atleast theyre trying to fix a problem that they essentially created.

    • Sarah M

      June 29, 2019 at 11:51 am

      I guess the government makes the parents choose drugs over their children. The government forces parents to physically abuse children, ect!!! Every effort is always put into place to keep the child with their parents but some parents choose to keep their drugs, boyfriends, bad choices, ect instead of keep their children safe. It is not the government, it is the poor choices of the parents that call for removal.

      Comments like the one above are the type that don’t care about the child, the victim, the helpless.

      Comments like the one above are ignorant and ridiculous.

    • Carroll A Leis

      June 29, 2019 at 12:42 pm

      If you’ve been in this ‘system’ as I have, then you would know your comment is so off course. Please get better informed. Understand the out-of-control illegal drug issues and then speak out about it. Consider becoming a Guardian Adlitem (speak for the child). Become a much needed foster parent. Adopt. Become a school mentor for at-risk children…..Oh, the list goes on. Get involved and then speak from experience. Help, not hinder the cause. This might be the most worthy cause you’ve ever undertaken!

  • Kat

    June 29, 2019 at 1:47 pm

    I have a 9 year old niece and 6 year old nephew that sat in Florida foster care for over a year. They were dropped of at their foster home by a state trooper and left on the front porch scared out of their minds. Day 1 when they were removed and I called to have them stay with me. I am a licened resource home in NJ and the judge denied it claiming the kids did not know me. It took me 7 months before they would even let me visit the kids and broke my heart when the kids asked if they can come live with me. I left many message for the what you call Guardian ad Litem Program and NEVER had a call returned.

    • Grandma

      July 9, 2019 at 6:56 pm

      This is happening all over the country. States will not let children leave the state. I guess that title IV money is more important than family. Then they want to severe all ties to any and all family and get them adopted out as soon as possible!

  • Primrose

    July 2, 2019 at 11:19 pm

    I’m a foster mom kids need permanency
    Too long in foster care because the parents
    Don’t make the right decision
    Most of the time they choose drugs
    Over the kids great job governor👍

Comments are closed.


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