Yesterday, June 30th, Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 1326, the Department of Children and Families Accountability Act, which reinstates a system of accountability within Florida’s child welfare system and restores the department’s role in driving performance internally, as well as among all community-based care (CBC) lead agencies and managing entity providers.
“The DCF Accountability Act will permanently change the landscape of Florida’s child welfare system, addressing longstanding issues affecting Florida’s families, while keeping them safe and ultimately allowing them to thrive,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “I am extremely grateful to Secretary Poppell and to our legislative leaders for their advocacy and dedication to seeing this important legislation through to fruition.”
“As Chair of the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet, I am proud to lend my support for the DCF Accountability Act, transformational legislation that will enable DCF to fulfill its mission to work in partnership with local communities to protect the vulnerable and promote strong and resilient families by requiring more rigorous accountability,” said First Lady Casey DeSantis. “Governor DeSantis, Secretary Poppell and our leadership in the House and the Senate have delivered on their promise to support Florida’s children and families, while continuing to make this great state a better place for everyone to live.”
The DCF Accountability Act establishes an Office of Quality Assurance within the department, responsible for developing and implementing a measurable grading scheme to monitor both internal programs and contracted vendors throughout state. Their performance will be analyzed regularly to ensure Florida’s children and families are receiving high-quality care.
“I am proud to sponsor the bill, championed by First Lady DeSantis, that will help the most vulnerable children in our state. We must do better in helping families in crisis,” said Senate President Designate Wilton Simpson. “I believe this is one of the new laws, along with significant increased funding, that will result in better outcomes. Government is not the be all and end all solution, but we can perform our duties with care, knowledge, accountability, and more effort to help those who are in need.”
This legislation also encourages representatives from local churches and community organizations to engage in the state’s child welfare system and advise DCF on outreach efforts. With their extensive networks, grassroots perspective, and innate compassion, these individuals have an unparalleled ability to support initiatives like foster parent recruitment.
“I’m proud to have had the opportunity to collaborate with First Lady Casey DeSantis, Senate President Designate Wilton Simpson and Secretary Chad Poppell to engage in some of the transformational work underway at DCF,” said Representative Mel Ponder. “Ensuring Florida’s child welfare system is adequately resourced to meet the needs of children and vulnerable families is critical to Florida’s future success.”
Through the DCF Accountability Act, the department will also establish policies and programs to mitigate and ultimately prevent the impact of employee stress and burnout.
“Florida is blessed to have a Governor who is taking decisive action to improve outcomes for families, and we’re also extremely fortunate to have a First Lady who relentlessly defends the potential of every single child throughout the state, from Pensacola all the way down to the Keys,” said DCF Secretary Chad Poppell. “The DCF Accountability Act would not have been signed into law without their leadership and the unparalleled support of the outstanding legislators in the Senate and House, including Senate President Bill Galvano and Speaker Jose Oliva; bill sponsors Senate President Designate Wilton Simpson and Chair Mel Ponder; and of course, many other hard-working and dedicated individuals, such as Speaker Designate Chris Sprowls and Chairs Aaron Bean, Lauren Book, Rob Bradley, Travis Cummings and Ray Rodriguez. Now, we have the ability to establish a world-class child welfare system that demands accountability, promotes partnership and focuses on front-end prevention services to keep families strong, resilient and most importantly, out of crisis. We look forward to sharing the results of this monumental accomplishment and continuing to build upon it during the 2021 legislative session.”