Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins sent the following message to his staff this morning (March 10):
Last night, the Legislature ended another historic session. Among the most important steps was unanimous approval of our priority legislation transforming our Child Protective Investigative operations.
Senate Bill 2044, sponsored by Sen. Ronda Storms, and House Bill 803, sponsored by Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, allows for the opportunity to improve both the efficiency and the effectiveness of our CPI operations statewide.
In addition, the budget passed by both chambers provides for increased compensation for investigators and improved training and technology for our CPI employees.
We will begin implementation of this CPI redesign immediately. These changes will dramatically affect every employee in our investigative units, as well as our partners in child welfare. Upon completion of the redesign, investigators will encounter less bureaucracy in performing their duties and they will possess better information for enhanced decision-making. The investigator role will be professionalized and standardized statewide. Investigators will be better trained, will utilize a new safety framework to guide them in their duties, and overall operational efficiency will be achieved.
It has now been more than a year since the tragic murder of Nubia Barahona. Many of the issues in our investigation and community-based care processes were highlighted and well-documented in the aftermath of this senseless tragedy. These problems were not created overnight and cannot be fixed overnight. Our leadership and the Legislature have made it very clear that protecting out children is a priority and they have provided the resources and policies to enable this transformation.
I personally want to thank the Governor and his leadership team, the Legislature, our DCF leadership and the entire child welfare community for coming together to collectively address these issues. I especially want to thank the DCF leadership team for spending countless hours and long nights in designing this strategy and to thank Sen. Storms and Rep. Diaz for their personal leadership in taking it upon themselves to study these issues and crafting creative legislation with bipartisan support.
Unfortunately, people continue to do unthinkable things to our most vulnerable population in this state. DCF and its network of community partners, faith-based organizations, local business and community leaders will be there when our children and families are in need. With these new policies and investments, we will collectively continue to improve the lives of children and families in Florida. Thank you again for your daily commitment to those most in need.