The Road to DCF Reform
Thinking DCF reform? If you watched the news recently, you probably know what is going on…five beautiful children, under the age of five have passed away since May 2013. You probably also know that Florida’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) is on the defense. It is no surprise, since this is the stance they adopt when a tragedy takes place: blame a few “inept” employees, fill some position numbers and enact some new protocol to magically fix things. But we all know that this temporary solution is getting outdated and the public is catching on to these old spin techniques. But what do we do now? Shall we let things calm down and allow the public to forget, until another tragedy occurs and then we are back to where we started? I suggest we try something different. Let’s make sure the public never forgets its commitment to our children. And let’s embark on a new route of Child Protection– namely Education and Prevention. This is real goal in DCF reform. I feel this is a pivotal time for Child Welfare Professionals in the State of Florida because we have the public’s ear. I think collectively we have the power to instill change.
I wrote THE DEPARTMENT because Child Welfare Workers need to be respected. If you are not respected, than it is almost impossible to protect children effectively. In Florida, this lack of respect emanates from a multitude of sources: from the public’s general unawareness of our basic job function to the ambivalent attitude of our partnering agencies to the judicial systems that we expose ourselves to on a daily basis. If you are wondering how DCF has garnered such a poor public opinion— you have to look no further then how DCF treats its very employees. When the agency that is in charge of protecting the life of every child in the state thinks of its workforce as an expendable liability rather than a true commodity; then we have a problem. I wrote THE DEPARTMENT because the current revolving door hiring system that is in place needs to be shut forever. Think about this how many people can do your jobs? People will humor you with lip service, but unless they have done the work and understand the limitations and constraints of our current system, then they are just naïve pundits looking from the outside in. Let me add, just because you have the book smarts, doesn’t mean you have what it takes to work in this arduous field. I have seen them all…from all walks of life, ex-police officers, lawyers, doctors, and even a few formally trained social workers, spin their way through those doors and exit right out. THE DEPARTMENT explains how it really is to working in Florida’s child welfare system: it explains our fears, heartaches, frustrations, and triumphs. As a former employee of the Department, my service as a child welfare worker had to be one of the proudest accomplishments in my life. I hope this book forges a path for change— with your help I think it will. Please spread the word and be proud of what you do. DCF reform is on the horizon if we demand it.
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