Protecting Kids Not #1 at Capitol
Following another year in which too many children died, lawmakers promised to make Florida a safer place for the state’s at-risk children. However, according to the Miami Herald, the legislators' own pet home-town projects have taken precedence in the budget.
Many children’s advocates claim that legislative leaders have failed to back their promises with actions that will actually help the state’s abused and neglected children.
While Gov. Rick Scott proposed spending $39 million to hire 400 more child abuse investigators to respond to hotline reports and identify children at risk of harm, he's not asking for money for the private agencies that follow up with families. The agencies, which are asking for an additional $25.4 million, say they need that money to make caseloads more manageable.
The public outrage that drives these pleas follow publication of Miami Herald’s Innocents Lost series, which has been running throughout the legislative session, combined with the highest state budget revenues in seven years.
On Thursday, the Herald held a town hall meeting at its headquarters in Doral to air issues uncovered in the series -- including persistent undercounting of fatalities by state authorities.