The Miami Herald editorial published in the July 2 Bradenton Herald, "Fix Florida children's agency," insinuates that recent, tragic child deaths are linked to the Department of Children and Families' efforts to increase accountably in contracts with community-based care (CBC) providers.
This is a baseless assertion that is not supported by facts.
Fact: DCF is adding performance measures and increasing accountability in CBC contracts. Hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars are going to these organizations to provide care for the most vulnerable in their communities, and the department has the responsibility to ensure that those taxpayer dollars are being responsibly deployed.
DCF will not continue to write blank checks based on a "this is how it's always been done" mentality. Lack of accountability and clear standards in CBC contracts has led to inconsistency in services statewide and three CBC failures in the past two years.
The department has proven that CBC accountability drives performance. Last year, the department implemented a CBC scorecard evaluating 11 key measures. As a result, performance in these areas has improved by nearly 25 percent. Incorporating measures into contracts will further drive performance and improve services for children and families in Florida.
Fact: DCF's investigation processes have been flawed for a long time, but no previous DCF secretary has served long enough to address the systemic changes that were needed to protect our children.
DCF Secretary David Wilkins is committed to transforming the child welfare system and putting new, proven investigative techniques in place that will keep more children safe. That transformation continued this week with the beginning of training for more than 5,000 child welfare professionals.
Alexis A. Lambert, DCF Communications DirectorTallahassee