A Florida House committee on Tuesday passed the first draft of a massive rewrite of the state’s child welfare laws, but the organizations on the front lines serving troubled families and vulnerable children warned that they want to see more money follow.
“The real proof in the pudding is how does this policy drive the Legislature to put the resources into services,’’ said Kurt Kelly, president of the Florida Coalition for Children, which represents the state’s community-based-care providers. “We are woefully underfunded.”
Although the Department of Children & Families oversees investigations of child abuse, as well as the lawyers who represent dependent children, all of the services that flow to children in state care are managed by the so-called CBCs, which administer parenting classes, case management and treatment to parents regarded as unfit. The CBCs also provide care to abused and neglected children themselves, such as trauma counseling.
Kelly said DCF is spending less today that it was in 2007 on CBC services aimed at child protection, and the claims by the agency that it has increased the CBC budgets are accurate only if you take into account the “pass-through” money the agency receives to give to parents of adoptive children.
“It was not usable dollars for services,’’ he said.