“The work of our department is challenging. We are the safety net for Florida’s most vulnerable children and families. But with the challenges of our work come great rewards. Our vision is this – to deliver world-class and continuously improving service at the level and quality that we would demand and expect for our own families.” — Secretary Mike Carroll
GREAT NEWS! We’ve seen an increase in foster homes available. DCF and community partners have recruited more than 1,380 new foster families this fiscal year!
Approximately 10,000 children are in foster placements throughout Florida. Foster parents change lives and offer hope to children who have been removed from their homes by no fault of their own, because they have experienced abuse or neglect and cannot safely remain with their parents. They play a significant role in helping families heal and reunite. When reunification is not possible they help children transition to a new home and a new family.
Interested in fostering? Visit www.MyFLFamilies.com/FosteringSuccess.
Last month, two DCF child protective investigators initiated an investigation at a home where a 4-year-old was allegedly living in unhealthy conditions. The father answered the door and initially would not allow them into the home, but with persistent encouragement he relented and let them in. The home was filthy, with human waste and trash strewn around the home. The father appeared to be going through severe withdrawals, and the mother was lying on the couch completely covered under a blanket. The mother was incoherent and visibly unwell, with severe bruising on her face, arms and legs.
The CPIs called 911 and at the hospital the mother was diagnosed as suffering from seizures. Doctors said her health was so poor that without intervention she faced death.
The child was placed with her grandmother, and a couple of days later, the child asked one of the CPIs to attend her 5th birthday party. The CPI attended the party and then accompanied the child and her grandmother to visit the mother in the hospital. The mother has since been discharged from the hospital. The grandmother cleaned the house, and a relative is staying with the parents in the home to provide support and assistance. The child is thriving in her grandmother’s care.
It takes a lot of heart to do this job well.
DCF child protective investigators were recently on a case that involved physical and emotional abuse to a little girl child. In the midst of the case, we realized that today was the little girl’s birthday and we would be removing her and her brother from their parents on a very special day in this young woman’s life. We hesitated and discussed the pros and cons but ultimately came to the decision that she and her brother needed to be removed immediately for their safety and well-being.
The decision was made that the DCF team would provide the child with a birthday party at school, complete with gifts and cake. The team had gathered so much information that we even knew what kind of music, interests and likes the kids had. So with some gift cards we had at the office, the team bought some gifts for both kids.
It turns out that these kids had NEVER had a birthday party before. The child was unsure of how to respond and was hesitant for fear she would be disciplined for accepting gifts.
We took a day that could have been terribly traumatizing for these kids and made it a little less painful. All of us learned a lot that day – we learned that faith and trust can overcome so much and the little girl learned she is worthy of love.
By Carmen Morales
I can honestly say that I never envisioned how my future would look or feel, until I came into care at the age of 12. The importance of education was never uttered to me. I had no sense of structure, consistency, or courage to dream. However, being 12 years old was the start of what would be a blissful journey for me.
I was blessed to have been placed in a home with a family that had nothing but love, protection and direction to give. Being with my forever family and having an influential support system, I was taught the fundamentals of education, the significance of family values and, most importantly, that I matter. The strength of my faith is certainly owed to my unfortunate circumstances and without a doubt to the amazing people God has placed in my life.
Currently, I am 23 years old and seeking a degree in Public Administration at the University of Central Florida. I have been employed with the Department of Children and Families since I was 18 years old. Working for DCF, as well as the mentoring I continue to receive and the encouragement and guidance of Independent Living, I have been able to establish profoundly amazing relationships. My experiences have allowed me to grow both personally and professionally.
Nelson Mandela once said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” My advice to you would be that when things seem unattainable, keep pushing forward because hardship is only temporary. I have learned that I am in control of my actions, my successes, and my future.