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Florida Foster Child Attorney, Advocates Agree: ‘Pivotal Time’ Child Welfare

When Florida Department of Children and Families interim Secretary Mike Carroll told foster child attorneys and child abuse advocates this week that he sought to both save children’s lives and also to “protect the light” in children’s eyes, he found no argument among attendees at the annual Child Protection Summit.

The audience of staunch child advocates and attorneys who represent at-risk children also fight for the rights of Florida’s most vulnerable citizens – the young, abandoned, sexually abused and those otherwise in need of guidance and protection in their lives.

The past few years have been both tough and promising. The Florida DCF has been under significant scrutiny, with a spate of deaths of children under its care or knowledge. A recent newspaper investigation revealed almost 500 such kids have died while supposedly under its watch or knowledge.

Meanwhile, during the 2014 Florida legislative session, lawmakers passed and Governor Rick Scott signed a host of new laws and funding designed to further child protections. Read Florida Child Advocate’s coverage of the new laws here.

“A lot of times, we say we save lives as if the only thing we do is prevent child fatalities,” Carroll said during the summit, which was held in Orlando. Read an article on the summit here. “To me, preventing child fatalities is a given … When I say we save children, it’s about protecting the light inside of them and helping it to burn brightly.”

Florida’s advocates and attorneys representing at-risk children have made it their mission to protect the state’s most vulnerable children. We’ve worked to raise awareness about their plight and needs, and tried to hold the Department of Children and Families accountable when failings have occurred or new legislation or funding are needed.

It’s always a pivotal time for the state’s foster children and at-risk youth. Every new child who enters the system is at a pivotal stage. It’s the Florida DCF’s job, and the job of every foster child and children’s rights attorney to make sure their lives pivot in the best, most safe direction. We’re committed to working with the state in this mission.


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