Surrounding by child abuse investigators and supervisors, Scott pledged again — as he did earlier this year — to commit about $39 million in new dollars to hire more staff and lower caseloads. He then chastised the Florida Senate for not including the money in its budget but defended gaps in his own child welfare proposal that advocates say leaves holes in the state's safety net.
“I am asking the Senate to do right by our children,” Scott said, after praising the work of local investigators.
The Senate has allocated $33.5 million in new money for child welfare programming but has not identified where the money will be used. The House has set aside more than the governor -- $44.5 million, enough to hire additional child protection investigators and provide $4.5 million in new money for support services. Both sides will meet next week to work out their differences.
The budget increases have come in the wake of a Miami Herald investigation, Innocents Lost, that chronicled the deaths of 477 children over six years whose families had a history with DCF. The Herald review of the state budget over that six-year period also found that as the state budget grew by $10 billion, the resources devoted to child welfare dropped by $80 million.