TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) – Florida lawmakers are hoping to improve a troubled foster care system with new legislation.
The DCF Accountability Act, or SB 1326, is meant to improve the system that oversees the well-being of approximately 19,000 children across Florida. The proposed legislation cleared its first Senate committee last week.
Children in out-of-home care
Here’s a look at the number of children in out-of-home care system in the bay area. Hover over the bar to see the exact number.Source: DCF
The bill requires annual reporting, better monitoring of cases and creates the position of a chief quality officer. It also allows child abuse cases to begin in 24 or 72 hours, instead of the current 24-hour window. More time-sensitive cases, like those involving trafficked children or children under the age of 1, would still need to begin an investigation within 24 hours.
The bill could allow major positive changes for a struggling Pasco and Pinellas region. Currently, Pinellas County has more children in foster care than Broward and Miami-Dade counties, with 1,570 children placed last year.
According to data from the Florida Department of Children and Families, the state typically aims to reunite children with their families within 12 months. That only happens with 55 percent of the cases in Pinellas County.
The bill was presented by Wilton Simpson, who represents the 10th district including Citrus, Hernando and Pasco counties.
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