The resignation of Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary Mike Carroll will not impact major foster care reforms underway in Hillsborough County, according to DCF Spokesman David Frady.
Carroll took a personal role in reforming Hillsborough foster care after an 8 On Your Side investigation in February uncovered major failures in the system.
Eckerd Connects, which is the lead agency running foster care in Hillsborough, is now operating under a Corrective Action Plan ordered by DCF after our investigation revealed foster teens living in caseworker cars in a gas station parking lot and failing to receive basic services.
Our investigation triggered an immediate response by Carroll and sparked inquiries by the DCF Inspector General’s Office and a Peer Review Team formed by Carroll to investigation foster care problems and find solutions.
DCF’s Office of Child Welfare ordered a Corrective Action Plan after those reports by the two investigating bodies.
“Nothing in that agreement will change,” Frady said.
Hillsborough Commission Chair Sandra Murman credits Carroll with managing DCF with little money and many challenges.
Carroll announced he is leaving office Sept. 6, but has not cited any reason. Frady refused to comment on the reason for Carroll’s departure.
The same day that 8 On Your Side revealed foster kids living in cars back in February, Eckerd fired the subcontractor responsible, Youth and Family Alternatives, and later hired another agency to take its place.
Eckerd Connects also brought in new leadership, Chris Card, to oversee foster care in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties. Murman says Card is working “80 hours a week” to get the agency back on track.
“I do think Eckerd has taken seriously every single comment from you to the legislature to citizens they have taken it to heart and said we have to change how we do business,” Murman said.