Category Archives: DCF Secretary

A Year of Faces and Places

As the year comes to an end, we wanted to thank you for visiting our blog and show appreciation for our guest bloggers. We hope the blog posts have introduced you to thoughtful real-life stories and useful information.

 Here’s a compilation our top five blog posts this year. They’re good reading if you have some down time this week:

1.       Miles of Smiles Brought to the State Fairgrounds

Wade Shows carnivals and the Florida State Fair Authority hosted about 13,000 foster, adopted, and disadvantaged youth at the fairgrounds. This amazing blog post comes from the daughter of  Wade Show’s owner.

2.       A Child Born from the Heart

An adoptive father tells the story of his adopted son, including his son saying, “My sister Sami came from mommy’s belly, and I came from mommy’s heart.”

3.       Who is Your Emily?

One of our staff tells a story about a young girl, Emily, in an effort to inspire and help other DCF  staff cope with working with abused, neglected children. This one puts everything in perspective.

4.       They’ve Found Forever Families

This blog is a brief, first-person account actual adoption ceremonies for several families during November’s National Adoption Month. Highlights include remembering an adoptive grandmother exclaiming, “I’m about to be a new grandma!”

5.       Two Teens. Two Worlds Apart

A young lady talks about meeting a refugee and learning about his life before he came to the    U.S. – making her very thankful for the comforts of her own childhood. “His uncle from Germany would send his family money so they could eat. Mine sent me money for holidays and    birthdays that I saved for my prom dress.”

We hope you have enjoyed our blog this year and look forward to bringing you even more posts in 2013. If you are interested in being a guest blogger about a topic related to DCF’s services, please email

Enjoy the Fireworks!

The Nation’s Independence Day is a time honored tradition celebrated by magnificent displays of fireworks throughout the United States. Increased access to fireworks around the fourth of July holiday season makes it easier for children and teens to get their hands on tempting, but potentially dangerous explosives.  In 2010, found that children and teens under the age of 15 accounted for 40 percent of the total estimated reported injuries due to fireworks.

We want to remind all parents and caregivers to provide strict, direct supervision to children and teens when in the presence of fireworks, encouraging families to enjoy such sky shows by the professionals who know best.

Remember, if your child is injured by fireworks, seek medical treatment immediately. Here are a few precautionary measures to take when around fireworks this holiday season.

  • Kids should never play with fireworks. Things like firecrackers, rockets, and sparklers can also be dangerous when not properly supervised. Keep these devices outside and away from the face, clothing, and hair. Sparklers can reach temperatures hot enough to melt gold.
  • Steer clear of others — fireworks have been known to backfire or shoot off in the wrong direction. Never throw or point fireworks at someone, even in jest.
  • Don’t hold fireworks in your hand or have any part of your body over them while lighting. Wear some sort of eye protection, and avoid carrying fireworks in your pocket — the friction could set them off.
  • Don’t allow kids to pick up pieces of fireworks after an event. Some may still be ignited and can explode at any time.
  • Think about your pet. Animals have sensitive ears and can be extremely frightened or stressed on the Fourth of July. Keep pets indoors to reduce the risk that they’ll run loose or get injured.

We wish all a happy 4th of July! May everyone enjoy a safe and fun holiday!

Kids in foster care are like any other kid

DCF Secretary David Wilkins

DCF Secretary David WilkinsI spoke with a group of teens in foster care while I was at last week’s Florida State Foster/Adoptive Parent Association conference. They brought up many concerns with me and it was truly an emotional moment for me.

Kids in foster care are like any others. They should not be punished for the actions of their parents.

One teen told me she felt like her friends thought she was a “psycho” because she couldn’t go to a spend-the-night party unless the friend’s parents got background checks. If you were in middle school, how would that make you feel?

A 17-year-old boy told me it was very difficult that he was not allowed to drive to school. It made him feel like an outcast.

And there was one teen that really caught my attention – she said she’d like to go to Harvard. I told her we would do everything possible to help her reach that dream. We’ve already implemented a way to hold her teachers and caretakers accountable for her education, but we’ll also help her fill out her application and get paperwork sent in.

We are simplifying the rules. Each case is different, but these are important issues to these kids and can be easily addressed. We’ve already made a rule that all kids in foster care should have access to social media if they meet the age guidelines. Again, so they can be like any other kid and have the opportunity to pursue their dreams.

ABCDs of Water Safety

Guest post by the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Palm Beach County. The coalition is funded by the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners and the Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County.

The phone rings, you run to get it. Real quick; you will be right back. Your kids are hanging out in the kiddie pool, ages 12 and 3. You return to horror. The 3 year old isn’t breathing, face down in the pool, mid-reach to a toy on the other side.

It sounds like something that could only happen to someone else. Not to your family, you are careful. You would never leave your kids alone. But it happens. Florida loses more children under the age of 5 to drowning than any other state.

Here are some tips to keep your family safe this summer:

A – Adult supervision

  • Whenever infants and toddlers are in or around water, an adult should supervise within an arm’s length of the children.
  • In addition to parental supervision, designate an adult “water watcher” (using a distinguishable item such as a lanyard or funny hat) whose sole responsibility is to watch the pool area for 15 minutes and not read, talk on the phone or be influenced by other distractions. After 15 minutes, give the distinguishable item to another adult for 15 minutes, and so forth. Ensure that the water watcher is a sober adult who knows CPR and has basic swimming skills.
  • Do not use flotation devices as a substitute for supervision. “Water wings,” or “floaties,” inflatable water rings and other pool toys are NOT safety devices. Only U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets are designed and tested for safety.

B – Barriers, beach safety and boating safety

  • Have a properly working physical barrier around, on or in the pool (i.e. isolation fence, pool safety cover, pool alarm) that meets code requirements.
  • Have window and door alarms that sound when breached.
  • Always swim at a lifeguarded beach, and pay attention to the beach flags. Wear properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets while on a boat.

C – Classes

  • Take a water safety course at a local aquatic facility to learn the skills necessary to survive in the water.
  • Take CPR classes.

D – Drain Safety

  • Have a pool professional check residential drain covers to determine whether or not they are safe. 
  • Encourage children to stay away from drains. Non compliant drain covers can cause suction entrapment injuries and possible death.
  • Those using a pool/spa should know where the cut off switch is for the pump in case a suction entrapment incident occurs.

The Drowning Prevention Coalition suggests that everyone uses the ABCD’s of water safety to stay safe in and around water, but it is up to each individual to make sure a drowning incident does not happen. Drowning can happen in a matter of minutes, in as little as two inches of water. Please be safe this summer. 

For more information about water safety, visit