The readers’ forum

Fix DCF ‘transformation’ before shaping new model

 

I congratulate Department of Children & Families Interim Secretary Esther Jacobo for engaging outside experts to review the safety model, tools and practice manual intended to improve how child-protective investigators and community-based-care agencies perform. She recognized that there were many unanswered questions and that a full analysis was needed.

That was good thinking, because that report is in, and it points to many things that need to be improved before the new system is ready to be started. In fact, one statement from that report alone requires DCF to stop the implementation of this new system when it says, “The safety model’s guidelines are incongruent with child protection practices designed for babies and toddlers, the age group at greatest risk for serious inflicted injuries and maltreatment fatalities.” In other words, the new system does not fully protect the children most at risk.

Secretary Jacobo should heed its recommendations, starting with halting the implementation of the new system until such time as all the components have been revised, tried and tested.

Every Floridian wants child-protective investigators to have the best tools, training and practices to help keep kids safe and with their families whenever possible.

The Casey Family Programs report makes it clear that more work is needed before Florida’s new model will achieve its intended purpose.

Pushing ahead with training and piecemeal implementation is a waste of time, talent and money. It’s time for DCF to stop, regroup and invest needed resources to make sure our new model does what we need it to do — protect Florida’s kids and support families.

Christina Spudeas,

executive director,

Florida’s Children First,

Coral Springs

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