Chris Latvala requesting $670K for Pinellas County child welfare program

chris latvala
The program works to reduce the number of children in the juvenile welfare system.

Rep. Chris Latvala filed another appropriations request Monday seeking funds for a non-profit program that works to prevent children from entering the child welfare system.

The representative is requesting $670,000 from the Department of Children and Families for the Pinellas County non-profit Directions For Living’s BabyCAT program. 

The program places parents identified by child protective investigators as having a substance abuse or mental health issue that contributes to abuse or neglect of their young children, between the ages of 0 and 5, into the BabyCAT program to reduce the risk of children having to be removed from their home.

The program provides intensive in-home therapy, case management and care coordination services to address issues that could risk children’s safety.

The goal is to reduce the number of children entering the child welfare system and increase the number of children entering trauma-informed early learning centers.

It also aims to decrease the number of parents arrested because of drug abuse, domestic violence or child abuse or neglect. Directions for Living uses jail data to determine if parents in the program were arrested while receiving treatment or within six-months after completing the program to monitor success.

The program links all of the adults involved in the program to job placement help through a local Career Source program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and to applications for a Pinellas County Health Plan or Medicaid, according to the request. The program serves between 100 to 200 individuals.

The funding requested in the appropriations bill would specifically go to the salaries of the program’s 12 employees ($586,000), as well as to resources like drug testing supplies, travel and cell phones ($84,000). 

Last year, the program received $550,000 from the state, less than the $734,000 originally requested

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected]


  • Danielle

    February 10, 2021 at 3:32 pm

    That’s a joke they don’t help families, they lie and manipulate judges and court documents and manipulate families to lose their rights so they get that increase to adopt their children out. I know from experience

  • Anne Rufiange

    February 10, 2021 at 4:56 pm

    They send the family member that commits domestic violence to Batterers Intervention Program and think they got help well that used to be true but your DCF buddie Tiffany Carr got all the domestic violence money for years and never funded and DCF never stopped it to monitor and make sure the program was monitored and site visited to be sure it was the Duluth Model and did not even care who ran it and what training! Remember look up Tiffany Carr Miami Herald she used the money to buy houses for herself she is in trouble now! Well where is the money for DCF to again monitor and site visit BIP? oh so you send the children home after treatment in an uncertified program no one should be allowed to run BIP unless they were certified! And they should give the money for them to be certifed i heard some democratic senators were gonna do something and put bill out in Jan! Where is it?

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