Child Welfare

Florida’s child welfare system has come a long way since it was privatized in 1998, but the system still needs improvement- particularly in the areas of child safety and well-being. Further transformation of Florida’s child welfare system will be challenging until the state stabilizes the large pendulum swings occurring in child welfare policies and practices.

Over the years, Florida child protection reforms have swung between two general approaches – family preservation, even if it risks maltreated children being re-abused by their parents, or removing children from their homes and placing them in foster care. These pendulum swings occur primarily because there is no unified strategy among key stakeholders of the best approach for keeping children safe.

To create a lasting reform in child welfare, Florida could look to the collaborative approach the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) has taken to achieve system transformation. DJJ faced similar reform challenges until it convened all stakeholders, collaboratively developed and implemented its “Roadmap for System Excellence.” DJJ’s new, youth-centered system is achieving considerable and promising success, even though chronic problems and gaps remain, as well as many important Blueprint recommendations have yet to be implemented.

Read the full policy brief as a PDF here

Additional Resources:

  • Case Study: Indiana Child Welfare Improving Practice to Improve Outcomes– The Annie E. Casey Foundation
    Through a unified vision of the goals of child welfare and a transformation from a punitive approach to one that emphasizes collaboration with families, Indiana reformed their child welfare system from one of the worst in the U.S to one of the best.
  • Don’t Play Jenga with Child Protection– The Children’s Campaign
    Florida’s child protective services system is highly unstable and built upon a wobbly CPI foundation plagued by revolving leadership, unrealistic workloads, and regulations that leave those on the front lines hampered.
  • Innocents Lost– Miami Herald
    An expose series using child death reports from DCF to document the dynamics of abuse and neglect, as well as the lives of children who have died in the care of Florida’s child welfare system .
  • Challenges Facing Florida’s Community-Based Child Welfare System– Florida Tax Watch
    Due to increasing service demand and case manager turnover averaging at nearly 40%, Florida’s child welfare system needs to be better funded in order to provide the preventative services necessary to protect Florida’s children.
  • Elle Pilonseno on Child Welfare Reform– The Children’s Campaign
    At the Candidates for Kids: First Coast Forum, Elle Pilonseno, Research Analyst at Florida TaxWatch, educated a packed room of candidates on the challenges facing Florida’s community-based child welfare system.

Disclaimer: These links to third-party websites are provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only. They do not constitute an endorsement or approval by The Children’s Campaign or its affiliate organizations and partners.


Special thanks to The Children’s Campaign for authoring the policy brief featured in this Candidate Connection.

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