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Child Welfare Reform, Temporary Care Moving Forward in House

Florida 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.
Credit Florida Department of Children and Families
The Florida Channel

Three child care bills are moving in the House. One would tighten requirements for child care workers. 

Representative Charles McBurney wants more screening for child care personnel. His bill would stop the Department of Children and Families from granting exemptions for sex offenders or felons.

“It will make it less burdensome for DCF to implement the federal laws, new screening requirements by having the same standard for all child care personnel,” McBurney says.

Another bill, sponsored by Representative Ray Rodrigues, would allow parents who are unable to take care of their children to choose a temporary guardian. Rodrigues says this will help parents who lose custody for reasons other than abuse.

“The number one indicator within our county is of a family member, typically is a single parent, loses their job," Rodrigues says. "And then when they lose their job, they lose their house. And so, they’re in trouble, they’re in crisis, but they’re not at a point where they have abused, abandoned, or neglected their child, they just need some help.”

The measure does not apply to children in foster care.

A third bill that would further past child welfare reform adds a quality rating system for both group and foster homes. Representative Gayle Harrell says she wants nothing but the best for Florida children.

“We don’t want substandard placements for our children, we want quality," Harrell says.  "And this is the next step to achieve it. We ask for your support.”

Co-sponsor Representative Neil Combee says they’re focused on getting children out of the welfare system and back in a safe environment.

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Ashley Tressel is a senior Communication and English student at Florida State University. Before WFSU, she interned at the Executive Office of the Governor, The Borgen Project, a national nonprofit for global poverty, wrote freelance for, a multimedia news service and served as managing editor for the FSU International Programs magazine, Nomadic Noles. After graduation, Ashley plans to embark on her journalism career somewhere in Colorado.