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Florida Child Advocates Offer Summer Safety Tips

As the school year comes to a close, families throughout the state will be seeking programs to ensure their children are safe while the parents work. With many kids each year becoming the victims of child abuse by caregivers, sitters and employees of summer camps, the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) is warning families to take precautions. Below are tips and reminders to help parents keep their children safe during the summer season.

The campaign explores three common areas: choosing a summer camp, finding a caregiver, and ensuring your child is safe around water.

Choosing a Summer Camp: Florida law requires all camp owners, operators, employees and volunteers to submit to background screens for state and federal criminal histories. DCF publishes a self-reported list of summer camps that have acknowledged state screening requirements. While the department is not authorized to license or inspect camps, DCF will investigate complaints and concerns related to background screenings of summer camp staff. Parents are encouraged to ask questions regarding staff background checks and training in CPR and first aid when selecting summer programs and camps. Parents should additionally check to see if they are welcome to visit and observe the camp in action or attend activities with their child at any given time, including water activities.

For more information on screening requirements and questions to ask visit: www.myflfamilies.com/summercamps

Selecting a Caregiver: Often times abuse or neglect happens at the hands of a non-relative caregiver, like a boyfriend, left alone to care for a child. More than 25 percent of child protective investigations in 2013 involved a non-relative as the alleged perpetrator. In response, DCF launched the “Who’s Really Watching Your Child?” campaign targeted toward parents who need childcare but may know little about their selected caregiver. In partnership with several statewide organizations, the campaign provides parenting programs, child care initiatives, pediatrician support, and child protective investigator, case worker and child care provider training. For more information and resources, visit: www.myflfamilies.com/whoswatching

Water Safety: In 2014, 73 Florida children died due to drowning, and Florida loses more children under the age of five to drowning than any other state in the nation. These deaths were 100 percent preventable. There should always be a responsible adult present when a child is engaging in water activities. Distractions such as cell phone use or lengthy conversations should be avoided as drowning can occur in minutes. It is also important to have physical barriers put in place around home pools and to have children take swim lessons. For more water safety tips visit: www.myflfamilies.com/watersafety

For more tips on child safety during the summer months, visit: www.myflfamilies.com/summersafety

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