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TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 10/15/19-Chad Poppell, secretary of the Department of Children and Families, speaks during the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee meeting, Tuesday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

Emails & Opinions

DCF deserves credit for fighting through adversity

DCF serves over 23,000 children a day in out-of-home care.

The Florida Department of Children and Families is “functioning as an emergency room rather than a prevention agency,” according to department Secretary Chad Poppell.

Poppell’s comments came earlier this week during a presentation he gave to lawmakers on the department’s strategic plan.

As it stands, DCF serves over 23,000 children a day in out-of-home care through private nonprofits that serve as community-based care, or CBC, lead agencies. Poppell said DCF’s first goal is to reduce that number by 20 percent no later than June 30, 2021 — the end of the 2019-20 fiscal year.

Accomplishing that will take some changes to the CBC funding model.

Currently, there’s language on the books requiring DCF to identify alternative funding methodologies for the distribution of core service funds to CBCs.

There is no consistent methodology applied across the CBCs and the funding challenges caused by that have made it difficult for the department to measure its performance and boost its accountability.

The varying funding levels for CBCs are also a hindrance to competitive bids in many parts of the state.

Poppell and Gov. Ron DeSantis deserve praise for their commitment to invest more resources into the child welfare system and adding preventive services that stop children and families from ever reaching the point of crisis.

Fair and adequate funding is essential to implementing this much-needed reform.

Poppell’s resolve to increase support and accountability — including holding youth who refuse their foster care placements and services accountable for their actions — is necessary so that DCF and its providers can focus on all the children in their care, including crossover youth who are involved in both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

Written By

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Orlando Rising and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

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