Florida’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) contracts with 19 different agencies to provide child welfare to Florida’s children. Community Partnership for Children is the lead agency selected by DCF to manage Volusia, Flagler and Putnam Counties. Each time an abuse call is made to the 1-800-96-ABUSE hotline DCF serves as the first response to the report. A DCF protective investigator is sent to the home to investigate the abuse call.
Abuse calls have three possible outcomes: no indicators, not substantiated, and verified . The protective investigators work with a Service Decision Team, in some cases, to determine what is safest for the child. If at all possible, they will provide services in the home so that the child does not have to be removed.
Some indicators – When there are minimal indicators of abuse, the family may be engaged in intensive family intervention services. Services for the family can include family coaching, which specializes in domestic violence issues, and family transitions, which helps families to deal with stressors.
Indicators of abuse where the child is at risk for being removed – When there are more significant indicators of abuse and the child is at risk for being removed the protective investigator may call on a more intensive family intervention program. This program places services in the home where the team meets very frequently with the family, often even daily. These services can last up to 6 months. It is much more intensive than the above mentioned.
Removal – There are times when the child must be removed from the home to protect them. In these cases, DCF turns the case over to Community Partnership for Children. There is an average of 690 abuse calls received each month in our community. Once Community Partnership for Children officially accepts a case, a Case Manager is assigned to the child. A comprehensive Case Plan is created to help mend the abusive situation. The child is placed with a relative or close family friend until they can be reunified with their family. If there is no one available to take the child, then they may be placed in a foster home or group home facility until they can be safely reunified.
The goal of the Case Plan is always to reunify a family within 9 months. After 9 months, either the child must be reunified or the goal may be changed, in order for the child to reach permanency.
The change of goal may lead to:
- Adoption, which requires termination of parental rights (TPR)
- Permanent Guardianship (can be relative or non-relative)
- Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (if the child is old enough and does not wish to be adopted)