Scott Carves Out More Cash for Embattled DCF

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: January 15, 2014 3:55 AM
Rick Scott

Rick Scott

Gov. Rick Scott continued to release aspects of his budget on Tuesday, touring the state and showcasing his proposals for the 2014-2015 fiscal year. The governor highlighted more funding for protecting children and public safety on Tuesday.

At the media event in Miami at which he announced Carlos Lopez-Cantera would become lieutenant governor, Scott announced that his proposed budget would increase funding to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) by almost $31.9 million while another $8 million would go to sheriffs’ offices that handle child-protection issues.

“Today, I’m announcing that in my ‘It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget’ we will propose an historic increase to DCF funding,” Scott said on Tuesday. “We are committed to increasing funding this year by more than $31 million. This funding will directly support critical services for children by hiring more than 400 new child-protective investigators. We are also investing $8 million to support sheriffs who work in child-protection services. While DCF has made significant changes to protect children, we still have much to do to protect the most vulnerable among us. Even one child's death is a death too many.”

Scott is calling for the money to fund more investigators, ensure DCF investigators handle no more than 10 cases each, and create positions to review cases involving the most vulnerable children. The governor is also calling for restoring funding for mental health and substance abuse programs. 

“Armed with input from national experts and data to back up our proposals, we are prepared to ensure that these funds will be laser focused on protecting children who are most at risk,” said Interim DCF Secretary Esther Jacobo. “With Governor Scott’s steadfast support of DCF initiatives to improve child safety, I am confident that these strategic investments will be made to keep Florida’s children safe.”

Scott’s proposal won the applause of some legislative leaders on Tuesday.

“I want to thank Governor Scott for making the protection of Florida's children a top priority in his upcoming budget,” said House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel. “I appreciate his leadership and look forward to working with him on the issue this session.”

Senators sitting on the Appropriations Committee, including Sen. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, also praised the proposal. 

“DCF has opened their doors for full evaluation and scrutiny by working with outside agencies to assess how they can improve their system and prevent even one more child from dying at the hands of abuse or neglect,” Grimsley said. “We know what needs to change, and we know how to make it better. I applaud the governor for backing these improvements with the budget needed to make those changes happen.”

Later on Tuesday, Scott hit Orlando to attend the Florida Police Chiefs Association’s conference. There, the governor announced his proposed budget would include $3.2 million to train law enforcement.

“Florida’s law enforcement officers deserve to have the tools they need to keep Florida families and communities safe,” Scott said. “Florida’s 43-year low in crime is due in large part to the quality and training of our officers. To continue this trend our officers need the proper training and funding for that training. My proposed budget will help ensure that Floridians remain among the safest they have ever been.”

The proposal won the backing of Panama City Chief Philip Thorne, the president of the Florida Police Chiefs Association.

“Governor Scott recognizes that trained officers are key to reducing crime in Florida’s communities,” Thorne said. “The funding of the trust fund for additional training classes is important to maintain a high level of training.”

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

Comments (2)

11:17AM JAN 19TH 2014
Carving out money for cronies is his M.O.,,,,,,,more fla families get the shaft
R. Robinson
9:03AM JAN 15TH 2014
It is going to take a LOT more than money to fix DCF operations.

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