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DCF Chief: Partnerships Can Protect Kids

Department of Children and Families
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

The leader of Florida's embattled Department of Children and Families has pledged not only to save children's lives but to "protect the light" in their eyes.

DCF Interim Secretary Mike Carroll opened the annual Child Protection Summit in Orlando on Wednesday, calling the media scrutiny the department received after a series of child deaths last year "a double-edged sword."

"From that standpoint, it is so useful to help hold folks accountable, to educate folks – and really, it results in a call to action, which is exactly what happened in this case," he told the estimated 2,600 attendees.

However, he says, the extended attention also raised the stress levels of people who were already doing a difficult job.

"I'm not calling for less media scrutiny, but what I am calling for is stronger partnerships, so that we realize that we shouldn’t fear this type of scrutiny,” he said. “We shouldn’t fear transparency, and we need to work through it together."

Carroll says caseloads for child protective investigators will go down to 10 early next year, thanks to nearly 200 new hires that the state legislature approved last spring.