Florida welfare workers are removing children from their homes too quickly without providing stepping stones to help families that are at risk of losing custody of their children. A new federal study reveals that Florida's Department of Children and Families is not providing counseling services to the family of the child which could help them stay within the home.

New strategies

The DCF met with officials to discuss options to help children get the physical therapy and other specialized care they need when they become part of the state's foster care system.

The meeting came within weeks of a Miami foster child live streaming her suicide on social media and a welfare worker in Hillsborough County dropped a 4-year old foster child at the wrong house.

The meeting that took place focused on the weakness of the welfare system and the shortcomings of some of the areas within the report that could be better improved through funding or training. The Children and Families Services Review has raised questions of whether or not privatized funding for child welfare is working, or if more funds should be directed towards other areas within the system. The better answer would be more training and understanding of what could be provided before the child is removed from the home and use the removal of the child from the home as a last resort rather than the first.

Funding problems

Other welfare workers in the system are very skeptical of the funding and the extra money coming in and not being used properly. Contracts with care agencies were negotiated when the number of children in the system was above 40,000. Now at 36,000 children in the system, the agencies have not been meeting national standards of care and providing options for families to help with keeping their child in the home.

Christina Spudeas, executive director of Florida's Children First says that even though there are fewer kids in the system, there shouldn't be a lowering of standards. "I'm not saying there are no gaps in funding, but I'm still concerned that when you fail on so many standards there should be some alarm bells going off," Spudeas said to Tampa Bay Times.

Child welfare was privatized for several years before going completely privatized in 2005. DCF contracts with 17 official agencies, and those agencies subcontract through other care agencies in the state. "Is it a lack of funding or a lack of oversight into how the funds are being distributed?" Spudeas said.